PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has fired a broadside at the ruling PTI for deviating from its claims that there should be “One Pakistan” – a single standard – for all and stated that separate rules apply to the politicians from Punjab and politicians from Sindh.
“There are two Pakistans. One is for the prime minister from Raiwind [Nawaz] who was allowed to leave the country despite conviction and the other is for the president from Nawabshah [PPP’s Asif Ali Zardari] who refuses to go abroad for medical treatment despite request of his children,” Bilawal said on Friday.
“There are two Pakistans. One is for the leader of opposition from Raiwind [Shehbaz, who was recently given bail in a corruption case] and other for the leader of opposition from Sukkur [PPP’s Khursheed Shah] who is running from pillar to post just to get bail for over two years,” he added.
The PPP chairman who was addressing a press conference at the Zardari House in the federal capital rejected Prime Minister Imran Khan’s oft repeated claim that he would not offer any NRO – reprieve – to people facing corruption cases.
He said that the “selected” premier had already offered an NRO to PML-N supreme leader and former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his brother, PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif.
The PPP chairman said the prime minister keeps repeating his mantra about mafias and corruption. However, there are double standards which, he said, the PM is also benefiting from.
“I ask the prime minister where accountability is and where justice is. If the prime minister's friends are accused, they do not go to jail. If the prime minister is himself accused, nothing happens. If the prime minister's sister is accused, nothing happens.
“Now the selected PM says if he gets another term, he will ensure accountability. This is a joke.” He said now the people will hold the rulers accountable.
“The people are suffering due to this failed government. The parents – who cannot help their children from being deprived of education; who cannot provide bread and water to their kids – will not spare the prime minister.”
The PPP chief said his party believed in the people and the parliament. If the opposition parties do not have the power to overthrow this government, he said, then there will be elections and then the people will grab their members by the necks.
According to Bilawal, the PM or his ministers have no idea about the miseries of the common man.
“The prime minister says hard times are over, but that is only the case for his ATM machines [rich sponsors]. On the other hand, the lives of the common man are getting harsher than before but the prime minister claims that the economy is growing.”
The PPP chief said inflation in Pakistan is higher than the entire South Asia but the premier says the economy is growing. “I wish the prime minister knew what the problems of the people are.”
He questioned if the economy is growing then why the government is begging in the world and why it does not “kick out” the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The prime minister says the GDP is increasing but the government is begging the Islamic countries for help,” he added.
Supporting Shehbaz at budget session
PPP Chairman Bilawal announced that despite their differences with other opposition parties particularly the PML-N, the PPP lawmakers will support the National Assembly Leader of Opposition Shehbaz Sharif’s stance during the upcoming budget session.
“The PPP is ready to thwart the budget despite all the differences [with other opposition parties]. We offer all our members to Shehbaz Sharif. Let them thwart the budget and save the people from the scourge of inflation and unemployment,” Bilawal added.
“In spite of the inappropriate behaviour by some PML-N leaders, the PPP still wants to cooperate with the opposition leader in the parliament,” the PPP chief added in response to a question.
The PPP and the ANP parted ways with an 11-party opposition alliance the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) after PDM leadership issued show-cause notices to the two parties for allegedly violating a decision regarding the selection of the Senate leader of opposition.
Earlier, the PPP had also refused to comply with the alliance’s decision to tender resignations from the national and provincial legislatures in a bid to dislodge the “selected” PTI government.
Talking with reference to the resignation issue, Bilawal said if the PDM parties had been serious in tendering resignations, “they would have resigned a day after we did not accept linking the long march with resignations”.
“If they had had an intention to resign, they would have resigned then. They can still resign if they want to,” said Bilawal, whose party rules the Sindh province – the only province to be ruled by an opposition party – and has, therefore, a lot at stake when it comes to the question of resignations.
PML-N slams Bilawal’s statement
PML-N leader Rana Tanveer – also is the chairman of the Public Accounts Committee – said the PPP chief is taking out his frustration by making such incendiary statements.
“The PPP chairman should not paint the PML-N cases as the cases of Punjab, and the PPP's cases as cases of Sindh. As a leader of a national party, Bilawal should abstain from giving such irresponsible statements,” Tanveer said while talking to The Express Tribune.
PML-N Punjab spokesperson Azma Bukhari also commented on Bilawal’s statement and said the PML-N could also declare PPP slain chairperson and former prime minister Benazir Bhutto a prime minister of Larkana or the PPP a Zardari group.
“But we show maturity and we would stoop to that level. Bilawal should keep his mother and her stature in mind before making such crass statements. Bilawal is talking about a three-time former prime minister [Nawaz Sharif] who is the same age as his slain mother [Benazir],” she added.