Saturday July 13, 2024

PPP not afraid of polls despite ‘uneven’ playing field: Bilawal

By Faizan Bangash
September 16, 2023

LAHORE: Demanding the Election Commission of Pakistan to hold polls in the country, Pakistan Peoples Party Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari on Friday said his party was not confined to one province.

In a press conference after the party’s central executive committee (CEC) meeting, he said the PPP would come up with its strategy once the schedule of general elections was announced. Flanked by former Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani and former Senate Chairman Syed Nayyar Hussein Bokhari, Bilawal said neither the NAB was new to party nor it ever bothered about the fact whether a level playing field was given to it or not.

Bilawal said the PPP was not in any difficulty or under the feeling of being oppressed. “We have seldom witnessed a level playing field in elections but I am still 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. I can tell the people about my performance as the foreign minister, my role during floods and then what I did for the FATF issue,” he maintained

He said, “We are ready to tell the people about our performance in BISP. We are ready and not disappointed at all. Everyone knows our stand about elections. General Pasha and former Chief Justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry tried to expel the PPP from Punjab. The PPP was formed in Punjab but ousted from it through a conspiracy first hatched in 2013 by General Pasha, Chief Justice Chaudhry Iftikhar and a political party. Then in 2018, General Faiz Hameed and Saqib Nisar conspired to keep the PPP out of Punjab and to pitch a certain political party.” He added one political party had suffered during its government because the PPP was kept out of Punjab.

He also read out the resolutions passed by the CEC, expressing concerns over the economic situation of the country, ever-increasing prices of commodities, inflated power tariff and increased prices of petroleum products. “The CEC also demanded the Election Commission of Pakistan to immediately announce the date and schedule of elections in the country according to the Constitution. The CEC also called for declaring flood affected areas in Punjab as disaster areas. Solidarity was expressed with the minority community in Pakistan and concerns were expressed over increasing terrorism in the country.”

He told media persons that it was not possible to repeat all the reservations by the PPP representatives from all over Pakistan regarding the level playing field. “We presented these reservations to President Zardari to address them. There is a context of every opinion. 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. The PPP focuses on the entire country. We give importance to every province. No one asks Nawaz Sharif or any other why they do not spend time in Sindh, why they do not spend a night in Balochistan or why they do not focus on Khyber Pakhtunkhwa,” he added.

Bilawal said that the CEC had discussed the constitutional stand and then the stance of the Election Commission of Pakistan on elections. “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. The PPP will also present its manifesto to the people of Pakistan. The party has always tried to strengthen the parliament and parliamentary institutions so that we can all benefit from its fruit,” he observed.

The PPP chairman said that he was very interested in Kashmir and Gilgit Baltistan and its people. “I have given hope to the people, especially the youth of Kashmir and GB. We all have the duty to make the youth a stakeholder, not only in politics but also in the economy. We have to give up traditional politics. Over 65% of the population of Pakistan is under 30 years of age and I am also going to be 35 this year. I have studied abroad and seen the world. This is my understanding that we will have to engage the youth in politics and economy of the country. We gave a share to women through the BISP and similarly we have to make the youth and farmers shareholders,” he added. In response to a question on today’s verdict in the NAB laws’ amendments case by the Supreme Court, he said that Justice Bandial was the last judge who was restored through a notification. “Now, history will give its verdict whether there was any benefit to the country of the movement for judiciary,” he added.

Answering a question about political dialogue with the PTI, he said, “Before May 9, we were trying to have a dialogue with every political force for elections but the PTI decided to attack the Jinnah House, GHQ and other army installations. We can have a dialogue with those not involved in the attacks. Our doors are open for negotiations to non-militant entities.”

Bilawal claimed that Sindh had made rapid progress in the field of tertiary health facilities not only for the people of the province but also the entire country. “We have NICVD in nearly every district headquarter. The hospital in Gambat is serving the people from all over Pakistan. We have children hospitals now. We are collaborating with Dr. Adeeb Rizvi for the SIUT. We made all it possible in a small time period since 2016,” he claimed.