KARACHI: Following the criticism by prominent opposition leaders Maulana Fazlur Rehman, Shahbaz Sharif and Maryam Nawaz, PPP chairperson Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has taken up issue of the Army and ISI and condemned Prime Minister Imran Khan for undermining the status of these institutions.
He was addressing a PPP rally at Karachi’s Bagh-i-Jinnah, held to mark the anniversary of the 2007 Karsaz bombing on Benazir Bhutto’s homecoming convoy and with an eye to strengthen the party’s foothold in Karachi and mobilise its workers in the metropolis for upcoming electoral challenges.
Bilawal Bhutto accused Prime Minister Imran Khan of trying to turn all institutions of the country including the Army and ISI into his party’s Tiger Force, saying the current state of affairs showed “this is not tabdeeli (change), but destruction.”
“Imran Khan is trying to turn all institutions of the country into his Tiger Force. He attacked the parliament, Senate, judiciary, ECP, Punjab police, and Punjab bureaucracy as he changed the Punjab police chief and chief secretary many times. No institution is left as he is even trying to make the media his Tiger Force,” Bilawal alleged.
“He (PM Imran) is also trying to turn the Army and ISI (Inter-Services Intelligence) into his Tiger Force.”
The Corona Relief Tiger Force (CRTF) was constituted by the government last year to ensure implementation of standard operating procedures to curb the spread of Covid-19.
Bilawal’s comments come amid widespread speculations over the appointment of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) director general. The issue has been in the news since last week following the unusual delay in the issuance of official notification of Lt Gen Nadeem Ahmed Anjum’s appointment as the new chief of the premier intelligence agency.
The army, in a statement on Oct 6, had announced that the incumbent ISI director general, Lt Gen Faiz Hameed, had been made the Peshawar Corps commander while Lt Gen Anjum was appointed in his place. But the Prime Minister’s Office withheld the official notification, leading to rumours about strains in civil-military relations.
Bilawal said his party would not allow the premier to be left “unaccountable”.
“PPP jiyalas will not spare him. Whenever he speaks, he makes a mistake. Now we are warning Khan that his days are numbered,” he said, announcing that all PPP leaders would protest at their district levels against inflation and poverty, while the party’s Youm-i-Tasees on October 30 would be held in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
Bilawal also accused the government of having done a “disservice” to education by introducing the Single National Curriculum, and criticised it for firing Pakistan Steel Mills workers “in a single day” and pushing their families into poverty.
“This cruel government believes in political victimisation. Till date, the government is summoning president [Asif Ali] Zardari in fake NAB cases,” he alleged. “But we respect the democracy and judicial system. Our Khursheed Shah has been in jail for two years. Several of our leaders are behind the bars, but we didn’t step back from our stance.”
Addressing the judiciary, Bilawal questioned the “dual system” under which he said the ministers in Prime Minister Imran’s cabinet named in the Pandora Papers were “roaming scot-free”, while PPP leaders not named in the leaks were suffering in jails.
Recalling the democratic struggle of his mother Benazir, Bilawal his party would complete her “incomplete mission” by serving the masses. “I promise that we will increase salaries, pensions, and provide employment to the youth of this country on the very first day we assume power,” he said, adding that the PPP’s protest will continue against the government “until we force Imran out of here”.
“We will establish a democratic system following the principles of Bhutto and steer the masses out of the crises,” he told the rally.
‘Bilawal the next PM’
Murad Ali Shah
Earlier, Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah while addressing the rally said the government had taken the country towards crisis as prices of basic commodities had reached record highs.
“They increased petrol prices by Rs10 and gave the justification that Pakistan’s rates were still lower than many countries. They should then go to other countries and live there,” he said of the government.
Shah said the government had claimed to have improved the country’s GDP but the opposite had happened. “No one told Imran the meaning of GDP. He thought GDP stood for ‘gas, diesel and petrol’, because he keeps raising the prices of fuel,” the chief minister remarked.
“In every election, the people of Sindh have brought the PPP into power. Sindh’s people will ensure PPP emerges victorious in the next election and Bilawal will be elected as the prime minister to lead the country.”
PPP Sindh president Nisar Khuhro also assailed the government over inflation, saying the party did not accept the “government that hijacked the elections”.
“This government thinks that the country can be run through jaadu tona (magic and sorcery). Their leaders are a curse on us. It’s our responsibility that we rid the people of the menaces created by this government,” he added.