Bilawal reiterates demand for closing down NAB

PPP CEC demands of ECP to immediately announce election schedule

Afzal Talib September 15, 2023
Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari addressing a press conference in Lahore following party’s CEC meeting on September 15, 2023. SCREENGRAB


The Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) on Friday reiterated its stance of across-the-board accountability, repeating its demand that the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) should be closed down because it was an institution set-up by a dictator.

Addressing a news conference after chairing a Central Executive Committee (CEC) meeting of the party, PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari emphatically demanded of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to immediately announce the date of general election.

The PPP CEC in its two-day meeting reviewed the overall situation in the country. It passed several resolutions relating to the economic situation, price hikes, inflated power and fuel tariffs, flood disaster in Punjab, rising incidents of terrorism and other issues.

Read more: PPP may reassess polls demand

Just before Bilawal’s news conference, the Supreme Court (SC) announced its judgment on Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan's petition against the amendments to the National Accountability Ordinance (NAO) 1999 made by the previous coalition government.

Through a majority decision of 2-1, the apex court declared the petition as maintainable and struck down some of the amendments, including those which were used to return some NAB references against the former ruling party leaders.

“This decision was expected from the Supreme Court,” Bilawal told reporters. “From the beginning, it is our position that NAB is an institution created by a dictator and it should be closed,” he said. “And secondly, accountability should be across-the-board.”

Bilawal played down the impact of the SC decision on the party leadership.

“NAB is not a new thing for us. Since [former prime minister Yousuf Raza] Gilani Sahib, we have been dealing with NAB cases under old and new laws. This decision does not matter to us,” he continued.

The PPP chairman told the media person that “history will judge the judges, who came after [former chief justice] Iftikhar (Muhammad) Chaudhry. [The outgoing chief justice] Umar Ata Bandial is the last judge to be reinstated by Iftikhar Chaudhry, as a result of the lawyers’ movement,” he added.

Level-playing field

Bilawal said that the PPP was formed in Punjab but it was ousted from there through a conspiracy.
“The conspiracy was first hatched in 2013 by Gen [Ahmad Shuja] Pasha [former Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) director general], Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry, and a political party,” he said.

“Then in 2018, Gen Faiz Hameed [who also served as the ISI director general], and [former chief justice] Saqib Nisar conspired to keep the PPP out of Punjab and plonked a certain political party. One political party suffered during its government because the PPP was kept out of Punjab.”

He said that his complaint about the level-playing field was to “one political party”. All the PPP representatives, he continued, had reservations regarding the level-playing field.

“We presented these reservations to former president Asif Zardari to address them.”

Also read: PPP to 'merge' Zardari, Bilawal’s opposing stances

To a question, the PPP chairman said that no one questioned Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) supremo Nawaz Sharif or any other political leader why they did not spend time in Sindh or Balochistan or Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P).
Bilawal said that the PPP was not in any difficulty or felt oppressed.

“We have seldom witnessed a level-playing field in elections but I am hopeful. I have trust in my team. There is only one political party which is not afraid of going to the people and that is the PPP,” he added.

“We have not reached any conclusion about our strategy regarding elections and that is why we are demanding the date and schedule of elections in the country. Once the schedule of the elections is announced, we will formulate a strategy,” he continued.

“We were all of the opinion that to allay any confusion, the ECP should announce the schedule of the elections. We think that once the election schedule is announced, all the political parties will be in election mode and come out with their manifestoes.”Talks with PTI Insiders said that many CEC members backed Zardari’s policy of political reconciliation despite a strong opposition from the PML-N, and Bilawal endorsed their views. The CEC handed the matters related to the talks with the establishment and other politicians, including the PML-N, to the former president.

Bilawal said that he was in favour of talks with the PTI before May 9 and was trying to agree on a date of the election, adding that it would have been better for all the political parties and democracy if his efforts were successful.

“But some PTI people planned to attack military installations, including the military’s General Headquarters (GHQ) and the Jinnah House on May 9. The May 9 incident was crossing the red line. Now, he added, the PPP would only talk to those politicians who were not involved in the May 9 mayhem.

Summing up the performance of the PPP government in Sindh, Bilawal said that the province’s progress in the field of tertiary health facilities had been by leaps and bounds.

“We made all these possible in a small time period, since 2016,” the PPP chairman said.

At the outset of the news conference, Bilawal read out the resolutions passed by the PPP CEC.

The party demanded of the ECP to immediately announce the date and schedule of the elections in the country according to the Constitution.

The CEC also demanded of the government to declare the flood-affected areas of Punjab as disaster-hit. The CEC expressed solidarity with the minority community in Pakistan, expressing concerns over increasing terrorism in the country.


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