Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari warned on Friday of an “anarchy-like situation” if the federal government stopped Sindh government’s funds, advising Prime Minister Imran Khan to refrain his ministers from giving such statements.
Speaking ahead of Prime Minister Imran’s scheduled visit to Karachi on Saturday (today), the PPP chairman urged him to announce a big relief package for the people of Sindh, who had “suffered a lot” because of the recent torrential rains.
Reacting to statements from some federal ministers about stopping funds, owing to “corruption and bad governance” in Sindh, Bilawal reminded that Sindh contributed “major share to the national exchequer” and vowed no one would be allowed to “snatch our rights”.
"It will create anarchy like situation if the federal government stopped Sindh government’s funds. No one is giving us funds from family inheritance … but from the National Finance Commission Award. It is our constitutional right,” he told joint press conference with Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah.
While expressing his apprehension that the Sindh’s share of funds could be diverted to Punjab, Bilawal asked the federal government to “release the funds to Murad Ali Shah government, and not to [Punjab Chief Minister Usman] Buzdar”. He added: “The PM should strictly ask his ministers to avoid such statements.”
The PPP chairman’s media talk came after a record-breaking rain pummelled the metropolis late last month. Bilawal said that downpour was the heaviest in the city in a century and expected that the Centre would stop blaming the Sindh government for the rain-related devastation.
“The recent rains were unprecedented and it was record rain in 100 years history of Karachi,” he said. “I hope Prime Minister Imran Khan will take back his statement that the Sindh government is responsible for the destruction caused by monsoon rains,” he added.
“Even the army chief acknowledged that 'no city in Pakistan could cope with a natural calamity of this scale'," the PPP chairman said, adding that everyone should put political differences aside and work to provide relief to the people.
When asked about the prime minister's visit to Karachi, the PPP chairman sought from him “a big relief package” for the people of Sindh. "The rain has wreaked havoc in Karachi and other districts of Sindh, causing billions of rupees in losses to the business community and agriculture sector,” he said.
“There is a dire need for a comprehensive package for rehabilitation of infrastructures and providing relief to the people,” he said, referring to Rs 802 billion projects conceived by the Sindh government for the Karachi Transformation Plan (KTP). “We can bring a change in Karachi if the federal government helps us financially in these projects.”
Commenting on the role of the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), Bilawal said the prime responsibility of the NDMA was to start relief and rehabilitation activities in case of any calamity, but it had given merely 5,000 tents.
“The NDMA has been given the task of cleaning three nullahs only,” the PPP chairman told reporters. “Nothing will happen with it. It is high time to devise a comprehensive plan with the consultation of the Sindh government,” he remarked.
When asked about the First information report (FIR) registered against the residents of the Defence Housing Authority (DHA), who were protesting against the failure of the area's administrative body after the rains, the PPP chief said that he did not have any knowledge of the FIRs.
However, he called on authorities concerned to be “rational” in difficult times. “People are frustrated. They are angry because of the difficult situation they have to face because of the recent monsoon rains,” he said. “People should be answered to by resolving their issues and not by arresting them.”
Accountability and APC
The PPP chairman, who was flanked by PPP Sindh President Nisar Khuhro, Murtaza Wahab, Saeed Ghani and Nasir Hussain Shah at the press conference, appreciated Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML N) President Shahbaz Sharif for visiting the rain-hit areas of Karachi.
Responding to a question about the accountability process, Bilawal opined that joint investigation teams (JITs) were being formed against the opposition leaders solely on newspaper cuttings, but the federal government was keeping mum on its ministers and special assistants involved in corrupt practices.
“Instead of investigating the matter, the government starts lodging the cases, which are proved otherwise by the courts,” Bilawal said, adding that the equal treatment should be meted out to the ruling party and its cabinet members.
Talking about the opposition’s all parties conference (APC) to be held on September 20 in Islamabad, Bilawal announced that PPP would host it. "We want to revive the Charter of Democracy singed by Shaheed Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif. We hope that [Nawaz] Sharif will return to Pakistan soon after he is recovered from the diseases," he said.
Responding to the federal government's decision to enhance electricity tariff in Karachi, Bilawal demanded of the federal government to withdraw the decision He said that the tariff was increased even though electricity was unavailable.
The PPP chairman stated that the Sindh government was aware of the peoples' problems and was doing everything possible to provide them relief. He said work in areas still inundated with water was ongoing.
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