A day after Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) vice-president Maryam Nawaz expressed openness about the idea of negotiating with the “establishment”, Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari has said that the issue will be decided through the forum of Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) – an alliance of 11 opposition parties to oust Prime Minister Imran Khan-led government.
In an interview with the BBC Urdu, Maryam said her party could consider negotiations with the military through the platform of PDM. However, there is one condition for negotiations: the “fake government” has to be sent home, she added.
Maryam – who is on campaign trail in Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B) – claimed that the “establishment” had approached some of her close associates for talks, though she hastened to add that nobody had directly contacted her.
Nawaz Sharif, the former premier who has been convicted of financial corruption and sentenced to seven years in jail, openly blames the military brass for his ignominious ouster from power.
“Pakistan Army is my institution. We will definitely talk, but within the ambit of the Constitution. Neither side will try to overstep the crease. Also, such negotiations would be held in public, not in secret,” Maryam said. “I am not against the institution, but this government will have to go home then we move forward [on negotiations]."
Addressing a press conference in Gilgit today, Bilawal alleged that elections in G-B ARE not being held free and fair. "The PPP exhausted all legal avenues for ensuring free and fair elections but I was stopped from running election campaign," he added.
The election laws, he said, are made so that no one can use government resources and position to influence the elections but the "selected" prime minister and his ministers openly violated the election laws and ran the election campaign in G-B. "On the other hand they wanted to throw us out of G-B in the name of implementing election laws,"
Bilawal said that the PPP has its last public gathering today in Gilgit but the administration stopped him from addressing that meeting. "This is unlawful and illegal but we want peace in G-B."
The PPP leader said that he was deprived of his right. In a court decision, similar restrictions were put on him as on the ministers.
"The court decision was a split decision and this amounts to depriving me of my rights. This is injustice," he lamented. "This is not the playing field we thought will be provided to us in these elections. Ministers are announcing billions of funds but the people of G-B will defeat all designs and will vote for PPP candidates."
Responding to a question, he said that it is essential that the elections are fair and transparent otherwise the people will "strongly protest".
He went on to say that the ruling PTI has no manifesto for the elections and they had never thought of a province for G-B and they are promising to make G-B a province on someone’s dictation.
The PPP leader warned the administration to keep away from sectarian design otherwise there could be violence which is not in favour of Pakistan.
He said that the PPP will protect food security for G-B and will not allow imposing increased taxes. "The puppet is unable to wage a political struggle. The people are against this anti-people party called PTI."
Bilawal said that there is still time to save these elections from becoming disputed polls, asking the institutions not to make G-B elections disputed. "The entire world is watching these elections. We cannot afford to have a rigged election in G-B. If the people’s vote is stolen then there could be protest and violence. Administration’s job is to maintain peace. Sectarianism is being propagated in some parts of G-B in these elections."
He hoped that on November 15 people of G-B will come out to vote for their rights and vote for the PPP. He said that the PPP had three main rights for the people of G-B in its manifesto. The right to rule, the right to property and the right to employment are the promises the PPP has made.
"These are the demands of the people of G-B and they are striving for these rights. The right to rule means separate G-B province with all the constitutional rights. The right to send their representatives in the senate and the national assembly of Pakistan, the right to choose prime minister and even become prime minister of Pakistan. The right to property is to own a property in G-B so that they become legal owner of their land and the resources of G-B. The right to employment is the right to have first right of employment in every project in G-B including in the projects under CPEC. The first right of employment is of the people of G-B and Balochistan in the CPEC projects. We want a prosperous G-B," he added.
The PPP, he said, had conceived the idea of CPEC. The relation of PPP and the Chinese communist party go back three generations like "we have relations with the people of G-B".
Bilawal went on to say that no other party has any manifesto for G-B whereas the PPP had promised these rights to the people of the region in its manifesto for 2018 elections.
"The manifesto of PTI is one of destruction like it has done to the rest of Pakistan. The PTI always make false promises like the promise of South Punjab province, 10 million job and 5 million houses. The PTI cannot snatch victory from the PPP in G-B election. The people of G-B have spoken and on November 15 they will vote for PPP for their rights."
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