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June 24, 2019

PPP holds rally as ‘referendum’ against federal budget


June 24, 2019

The federal budget proposed by the federal government for the upcoming fiscal year was dictated by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and if passed, it will bring misery for the general public.

Leaders of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) said this on Sunday as they addressed a large protest march that started from the Peoples’ Secretariat near Mazar-e-Quaid and ended at the Karachi Press Club (KPC).

The PPP leaders termed the protest a huge success and ‘a referendum against the anti-people and IMF-dictated federal budget’. The march was led by the provincial and city-wide leadership of the party. Activists and leaders associated with different subsidiary organisations of the PPP also attended the rally in large numbers.

Earlier in the day, small rallies of the party from different districts of the city merged at the Peoples’ Secretariat to form a big crowd, which then moved to the KPC. Participants of the rally, who throughout the route of the procession chanted slogans against the federal government and the prime minister, were also welcomed by some of the traders of different markets of Saddar who showered rose petals on them. According to the PPP leaders, the traders’ welcoming response to the rally showed their opposition to the new federal budget and other ill-advised economic policies of the federal government that had been causing severe hardships to the common people and traders alike.

The PPP leaders said the protest should be viewed as a ‘trailer’ against the upcoming full-fledged anti-government drive of the party, which would be launched under the leadership of PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari. It was also announced on the occasion that Bilawal would address a major public meeting of the party in Karachi in July.

Addressing the rally, Sindh Local Government Minister and PPP Karachi President Saeed Ghani said that it was high time for the Muttahida Quami Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) to decide on whether it should side with the poor or support the federal budget that was against them.

The PPP leader said the top leadership of the PPP had been arrested just before the time of the passage of the federal budget in order to frighten the party and create the impression that the protest demonstrations of the PPP were not against the price hike and inflation but against the arrests of its leaders.

Ghani said Bilawal had maintained in clear words that the PPP’s campaign against the federal government was not against the arrests of the party’s leaders but it was a war to secure the legitimate rights of people.

“Do arrest me if you desire so but we will not let this anti-people budget get passed,” the PPP leader said, adding that the federal government of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) lacked the requisite number of votes in the National Assembly to get the new federal budget passed.

He said the federal government required the support of its allies, including the MQM-P, to ensure the passage of the budget. He said if the MQM-P had sympathy for poor masses of the country, it should vote in the National Assembly to reject the budget as its passage would cause a massive increase in the prices of essential commodities, including edible items.

Ghani alleged that the present rulers had introduced a fresh tax amnesty scheme to extend undue favours to some selected people.

He said the Centre had already jacked up the prices of essential commodities and services, including petroleum products, electricity, and natural gas, and any further increase in their prices would be highly detrimental for the economic wellbeing of the people.

According to Ghani, Prime Minister Imran Khan had taken U-turns on almost all of his policies and stances including those related to loans from foreign donor agencies and the collection of massive tax from the country to the tune of 800 billion US Dollars.

PPP Karachi General Secretary Jawaid Nagori said the people of Karachi had rejected the new federal budget. He claimed that workers of the PPP were ready to march onto Islamabad in case the party’s leadership gave the direction. “This show should be construed only as our initial action,” he said.

The activists and leaders of the PPP had made a resolve to stand fast against all high-handed tactics being used against them by the state and government agencies, Nagori said.

He lamented that the people of Karachi had been rendered homeless and their shops demolished in the name of the anti-encroachment drive. He said alternative accommodations should be provided to the people whose residences were recently demolished in Karachi to clear the land of the Karachi Circular Railway.

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