PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari on Sunday set off with activists and supporters from Karachi the party’s march towards Islamabad – dubbed the Awami Long March -- as part of its attempts to oust the PTI-led federal government.
Prior to the rally’s departure, the PPP chairman addressed a large and charged crowd next to the Mazar-e-Quaid, kicking off the long march with the slogan of “Go Selected Go”. He added that the people of the metropolis had gathered at the venue and were about to stage a march to the federal capital to send the “selected, illegitimate and incompetent” PTI-led government home.
“جب تک یہ سلیکٹڈ ہے کوئی صوبہ ترقی نہیں کرسکتا۔— PPP (@MediaCellPPP) February 27, 2022
انشاء ﷲ ہم عمران کو بھگائیں گے اور عوامی حکومت بنائیں گے، جس میں سارے صوبوں کو وسائل و حقوق ملیں گے۔”
چیئرمین پاکستان پیپلز پارٹی بلاول بھٹو زرداری@BBhuttoZardari#AwamiMarch
“Karachi is a city where people come from every province and the economy of the country runs with their sweat and blood. They have been compelled to send [Prime Minister] Imran Khan home because this illegitimate, incapable and incompetent selected government has robbed the people of Sindh, Balochistan, Punjab and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa of their rights,” he told the participants of the rally.
“He [PM] has robbed you of your votes and livelihood. This puppet has to go. The entire opposition has decided to send Imran home and the Jiyalas of the PPP are at the forefront of this movement. Now, no power can stop them.” Bilawal maintained that his grandfather, PPP founder and former premier Zulfikar Ali Bhutto (ZAB), and Quaid-e-Awam Muhammad Ali Jinnah had promised that the country would be a parliamentary democracy.
“However, this government has attacked our democracy. It has attacked our economy and human rights. We will complete the mission of Quaid-e-Awam [ZAB] and Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto and defend the 1973 Constitution, the rights of the people and the economy of this country,” he added.
The scion of the Bhutto dynasty claimed that the PPP was only the party which has always defended the rights of the people and increased salaries and pensions.
“The PPP has given rights to the provinces and made them the owner of their own resources. This puppet Imran Khan wants to do away with the 18th amendment and the NFC [National Finance Commission] award.” Bilawal further said Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah was trying to serve the people of Karachi and rest of the province despite the fact that the “puppet” government of PM Imran had not provided the provinces their due share from the NFC.
READ Read Bilawal throws weight behind fresh polls
“This government has made Pakistan one of the most corrupt countries in the world. The Transparency International has declared the PTI government as the most corrupt government in history.”
The PPP chairman maintained that the “Awami” government would provide resources to the provinces hence all the cities would receive their due share.
“It is impossible to achieve anything until this ‘puppet’ is in the government and the ‘PTIMF’ [PTI and IMF] deal is in place. The time has come to bring a no-confidence motion against Imran Khan and send him home. Now with this march, cries will be heard from Bani Gala [residence of the PM Imran]. We will attacks this government after reaching Islamabad.”
Bilawal presented 38 demands on the occasion, saying they would be put forward before the people in every city falling on the rally’s journey to Islamabad. They include free and fair elections at all tiers of the government; constitutional governance, adherence to the principle of trichotomy of power and all institutions performing their functions and duties as prescribed under the Constitution.
The PPP has demanded that parliament and committee system should be strengthened, the role of the parliamentary committee on judicial appointments to the superior courts as envisaged by the Constitution must be revised and an independent Election Commission of Pakistan should be ensured.
The party wants to ensure the rule of law and an independent and accountable judiciary. It also seeks the right of all workers to form unions. The PPP also demands the right of students to elect their unions and having a decision-making role in addressing their welfare issues.
It also wants the right to freedom of expression to be ensured. The party called for ending the formal and “unannounced” censorship in print and electronic media and a new law for the independence of the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) according to the recommendation of the media commission report. It demanded that all “draconian” provisions of the cybercrime law should be repealed and called for the enactment of a data protection law to cover all public bodies.
The PPP further demanded the expansion of the Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP) and its reforms to cover all women and men in need. In addition, the party wants the setting up of an equality commission to ensure a fair pay and job policy across the board for women and minorities in consultation with the provinces.
It also wants effective implementation of the legislation on violence against women, domestic violence, acid attacks and sexual harassment as well as right to equal and safe access to all -- women, children and disabled people -- to public spaces, transport, and facilities. Also, a time-bound commitment for implementing the constitutional promise of compulsory education up till the age of 16; right to affordable healthcare services, including free diagnostics, out-patient care, medicines and hospitalisation through a network of public hospitals and enlisted private hospitals; ensure time-bound achievement of the right to maternal and child health through provision of adequate free-of-cost services and cash compensation for women, who need it to avail those services.
Moreover, it wants effective legislation and enforcement of such legislation against enforced conversions of religious minorities; guarantee of protection of provincial autonomy and entitlements granted by the 18th Amendment as well as by the Constitution generally, such as the NFC award.
The party also seeks a national consensus on guaranteeing the Baloch people to make their own choices and decide their destiny and priorities within the constitutional framework of Pakistan; release all political workers except those involved in heinous offences and develop consensus through a political dialogue and bring the Baloch political leadership into the mainstream.
The party wants effective implementation of Article 158 of the Constitution pertaining to the ownership and use of petroleum resources by provinces; effective implementation of the National Action Plan against violent extremists; creation of a new province of South Punjab and addressing the issue of neglect and underdevelopment in the region.
The PPP has also demanded fiscal autonomy and guarantees to the people of Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Jammu and Kashmir over control over revenues and fiscal transfers; workers should be paid a living wage; and the existing minimum wage across the country should be increased to allow the workers to live their lives with dignity and maintain a minimum decent standard of living for themselves and their families.
Additionally, it is demanded to establish social protection for all workers including those in informal sectors of the economy; farmers and agricultural workers should get the protection of labour laws; minimum wage, social security and maximum working hours. The PPP said Sindh was the only province to pass a law registering women farm workers and granting them legal recognition and rights. This, the party added, should be extended to the entire country.
Finally, the party demanded that a new framework for agricultural prices and subsidies based on ensuring the right to food security and stable prices and incomes for rural and urban Pakistanis alike; the poor should have a legally protected right to housing and protection from arbitrary eviction; and katchi abadis and slums should be regularised through a legal framework with all civic amenities and legal protections extended to them.
Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.
For more information, please see our Comments FAQ