Difficult to back ‘un-Islamic’ marriage case verdict, says Bilawal

Fears ruling might cast a dark shadow on the hard-won gains in the battle for women's rights

Z Ali February 04, 2024
PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari addressing an election rally in Hyderabad on Sunday, February 4, 2024. PHOTO: PPP MEDIA CELL

Steering clear of the victory lap over his political rival PTI founder Imran Khan’s punishment in an ‘un-Islamic’ marriage case, PPP chief Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari on Sunday said that backing such a ruling was difficult.

While opting for caution, he feared that the court's decision might cast a dark shadow on the hard-won gains in the battle for women's rights.

In an interview with a private channel, Bilawal said his reluctance to join the media's jubilation comes from concerns about potential repercussions on women's rights. Bilawal stated that supporting the verdict was challenging for him.

His statements come with Imran Khan and his wife, Bushra Bibi, facing a seven-year punishment in the Iddat case. However, the legal knockout didn't sit well with the legal eagles and the watchdogs of civil society, who criticised the ruling on both moral and legal grounds.

It is pertinent to note that this was not the first time Bilawal chose to withhold applause in the face of Imran Khan's legal woes. Last week, during a rally in Malakand, the Bhutto scion opted for a similar approach, avoiding celebrating Imran's predicament.

He explicitly stated that his party did not subscribe to the politics of revenge and negativity.

'Politics of hate'

Separately addressing an election rally in Hyderabad, Bilawal condemned a political party for engaging in "politics of hatred and division" in Hyderabad.

Urging the audience to reject such politics with the power of their votes, he emphasised that the people should counter divisive narratives. Bilawal took a swipe at political opponents, stating that their origin and history are well-known, especially their involvement in divisive politics in the 90s.

Addressing the crowd, Bilawal revealed his 10-point public economic agreement, pledging to double the income of Pakistan's citizens if elected prime minister. He also promised interest-free loans to women, emphasising his commitment to improving the economic well-being of the people.

Taking a dig at the PML-N, Bilawal accused them of prioritising their political ambitions over the welfare of the people. He pledged to provide a youth card to unemployed youth and ensure their support until they secure employment.

Additionally, he promised a university in every district, free and quality medical treatment facilities, and the redirection of subsidies from the elite to benefit women.

Bilawal urged the voters to reject divisive symbols and alleged affiliations with external elements, referring to Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P). He encouraged the public to make an informed choice on election day, emphasising that their vote is powerful and should not be wasted.

Read PPP faces backlash amidst Karachi's heavy rain woes

The PPP chairman urged the masses to stamp the "arrow", the electoral symbol of the PPP, on February 8 to counter conspiracies and promote positive politics.

In his speech which lasted for less than 20 minutes and which also repeated his 10 pledges, Bilawal told the people what answers they can give to refuse to give vote to MQM-P’s candidates.

“If you’re asked to put stamps on kite, you should reply to them that you can’t vote for those who clapped hands on the slogan Pakistan murdabad … that you won’t vote for a party doing politics in Pakistan from RAW’s funds.”

The PPP is facing a tough electoral contest in Hyderabad, which consists of nine constituencies, from MQM-P. The tug of war is expected to be nail-biting between candidates of the two parties on six of these seats which are based in City and Latifabad talukas.

Bilawal said Hyderabad is one such city whose people have witnessed the politics of hatred, divide and terror.

He added that the people also suffered losses and gave sacrifices for which he wanted to salute them. He appealed to the people to elect his candidates from all the nine seats of Hyderabad, adding that he would be able to undertake the city’s development more effectively with such a mandate.

“Some parties want to divide you in the name of religion and others for sect or ethnicity,” he warned. “PPP is the only party which wants to serve you without discrimination.”

The PPP leader said his party only wanted to tackle the problems of poverty, inflation, and unemployment. He then repeated the 10 pledges contained in his charter of the economy and once again made commitments to abolishing 17 federal ministries to save Rs300 billion in public funds and ending R1,500 billion subsidies given to the elite.

Reiterating criticism over PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif, he said his opponent is only fixated on becoming the country’s premier for a fourth time. “They neither feel about the problems and difficulties of Hyderabad’s people nor do they want to do anything about resolving them.”

Referring to the Grand Democratic Alliance, he advised the people against voting for that party’s candidates.

He told the workers and supporters to convey to the residents of Hyderabad that the contest on February 8 is going to be between PPP and PML-N. He added that the people should be sensitized that the votes cast to the independent candidates, mainly those contesting with the support of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, will be a waste.

Briefly elaborating his 10 promises, Bilawal said his mother Benazir Bhutto was not alive and added that he wanted to serve other mothers as his own mother. He assured that women would be made owners of the three million homes which he had planned to construct in the country.

They will also be provided interest-free loans to start their small business. If elected the PPP’s government will also enhance the grants under the Benazir Income Support Program.

The PPP chairman concluded his speech by taking oaths from the ticket holders in Hyderabad that they will immediately return to their constituencies after winning the elections to serve the people.

He also sought a promise from the people that they would vote for Arrow on February 8.


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