PPP co-Chairperson Asif Ali Zardari on Thursday urged his party’s supporters to “march towards Islamabad” and oust the government.
“Before the elections, I told you that they want to repeal the 18th Amendment,” Zardari said while addressing a gathering in Garhi Khuda Bakhsh on the occasion of PPP founder Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto’s 40th death anniversary. “That’s why they are lodging cases against us. At the time, some friends believed me and some people made fun.
“Now you have seen that the ‘selected’ prime minister’s [bubble] has burst. He said he does not have funds. If you can’t collect funds through the FBR (Federal Board of Revenue) then leave.
“It is time for us to march towards Islamabad and oust them [government]. I don’t want to do this because I want to be in government; [it is because] he (Prime Minister Khan) has already taken the country 50 years back. If we allow him to remain, he will take us 100 years back.”
Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, the chairman of the party, asked why justice for Z.A Bhutto senior’s “judicial murder” has not been served despite four decades having passed by.
“Today is the 40th year of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto’s judicial murder,” he said. “This is a tragic chapter of history. This day is asking a question from this country: why was the protector of the poor murdered? He opened the way for 90,000 prisoners to return home, he turned this country into an atomic power. Who signed his death warrant? That question is still awaiting an answer.
“The [former] president submitted a request eight years ago that we be provided answers for the murder of our founder. Why do the scales of justice tip one side when it comes to us [Bhuttos]?”
Bilawal, in the second half of his speech, criticised the government and warned the prime minister to not attempt to repeal the 18th Amendment.
“Those who are sitting in the Prime Minister’s Office have become a symbol of arrogance,” he said. “Those who are parading the idea of Naya (new) Pakistan should first understand the foundations of the old Pakistan.
“The ‘selected’ prime minister came to my Ghotki and said that the federation is bankrupt because of the 18th Amendment. He doesn’t know that strong provinces are the foundation of a strong nation. You can’t repeal the 18th Amendment. I am warning you, if you try to repeal it, I will… end your [government].”
“He (the PM) says he doesn’t want Sindh. You don’t want Sindh? Sindh also doesn’t need you. He only wants Sindh’s resources, its water, its gas. He wants to take away the rights of Sindh, steal KP’s assets, and keep Balochistan deprived. Provincial governments make provincial decisions, and this is how nations are strengthened but this is beyond this puppet prime minister’s understanding.”
The PPP leader went after the government’s economic performance, saying: “Since PTI has come to power, they have done nothing with sincerity, except lying. There is a tsunami of inflation. Everything is expensive.
“The finance minister says that their economic policies will make the people scream [with agony]. He says he doesn’t know anything about agriculture. I want to ask: is he a minister or an economic terrorist?
“People are being rendered homeless due to encroachment measures. Someone should tell them that the economy is not run on charity or magic. When we try to show them the mirror, they start NAB-gardi.
“But do they think that Bhutto’s grandson can be threatened; that Benazir’s son will be scared; and that PPP workers will run away? We will fight together, struggle together and complete Benazir and Zulfikar Bhutto’s incomplete mission.”
Bilawal said that the cases against him are based on “false allegations” and claimed that he has not been given a fair chance to present his answers in the court.
“I have not been able to record my statement before any court,” he said. “All I get are three minutes [to speak] before the court and then they say ‘this is something we never heard’. I want to ask the honourable judges to summon old transcripts and recordings.”
The PPP leader questioned why the Supreme Court had taken a suo motu notice of the fake bank accounts case.
“The Supreme Court’s power of [suo motu] is only exercised in human rights cases or legal complications,” he noted. “Why was it exercised in this (fake accounts) case?”
“The reason given was that the progress of this case was slow, even though the case was being heard in a banking court and the FIA had even presented an initial challan. [By that argument], aren’t missing persons’ cases, Zulfikar and Benazir Bhutto murder cases also proceeding slowly?”
“I am not saying that don’t hold anyone accountable but don’t use accountability to hide your sins or as a revenge tool.
“When I ask why the NAP (National Action Plan) is not implemented, and why do federal ministers have close ties to militants, a movement to declare me as anti-national is started.
“I demanded the removal of that trio but Khan instead appointed a man who is nominated in cases ranging from Daniel Pearl to Benazir’s murders.
“They can’t tolerate Benazir, so much so that they want to remove her name from the Benazir Income Support Programme. They actually want to end the programme but Benazir is not a person, she is a mission.”
Speeches, clamour, threats won’t stop accountability drive: Chaudhry
Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry seemed unfazed by Zardari’s indication to march towards the capital, and questioned that “if the PPP respects the courts then why and against whom has it announced the march?”
“It would be better if they march against their own corruption,” he advised, adding that “had Bhutto sahab been alive today, he would have also launched a protest march against the PPP’s corruption.”
Chaudhry said that it is normal for “corruption fiends to resort to protests when their addiction is being treated”.
The minister suggested that the PPP of today only has a superficial resemblance to that of Bhutto’s PPP. “The extent of PPP’s relation to Zulfikar Bhutto can be likened to PML-N’s relation to Muhammad Ali Jinnah,” he said. “For how long will they keep on selling their relation with Bhutto and Benazir’s name?”
Chaudhry made it clear that “speeches, clamour and threats would not save them from accountability, adding that “you can take to the streets but then the public would itself settle scores with you.”
PPP can take to the streets but it won’t do much: Qureshi
Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said it’s the PPP’s right to take to the streets in protest but predicted that the exercise would prove futile because “the public isn’t naive.”
“If they want to take to the streets, it is their democratic right,” Qureshi told DawnNewsTV. “Without taking the law in their own hands, if they want to present their point of view, they have both the fora available. There is the parliament and they can also do it outside.
“The people, however, are not naive. They know who is responsible for the problems we’re facing today. They know that the entire economic crisis wasn’t created in these seven months. People are very wise. This is is a primitive mindset that makes some think that they can convince the masses with speeches and words.”