KARACHI, Jul 14, 2020, The Nation. PPP chairperson Bilawal Bhutto on Monday termed Prime Minister Imran Khan a “danger” to democracy, economy, and the nation while criticizing the government’s foreign policy on Kashmir, The Nation reported.
Addressing a press conference, he said, “Imran Khan is the first and the last prime minister who failed to unite the nation on the Kashmir cause.”
He said that the previous governments in the past, whether dictatorship, democratic, selected, or elected, were able to unite the people on the cause of Kashmir.“I am surprised that despite all these problems, prime minister, on the floor of the house, said that PTI’s foreign policy has been the most successful, Bilawal said.”
“I am the only politician from opposition and treasury benches to oppose Modi. Unlike the appeasement policy that either of the ruling parties has had with Modi, PPP has always maintained its stance and has opposed him from day one and will do so in future,” Bilawal said.
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“But this incompetent prime minister has failed to form national unity on Kashmir cause, he is the prime minister who ran Modi’s election campaign claiming that if Modi wins, the Kashmir issue would be resolved,” he said.
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The government’s appeasement policy with Modi must come to an end, Bilawal said, adding that the PTI-led government’s foreign policy had damaged Pakistan.
He said that the PPP had always been at the forefront of the Kashmir issue. He said that Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto had fought the case of Kashmir and even today Pakistanis and Kashmiris remember his speeches in the United Nations for Kashmir cause.
He urged the government to provide relief to the frontline workers, labourers, farmers, and those affected by the coronavirus.
Bilawal claimed that the Sindh government, against all odds, presented a people-friendly budget.
“Due to the federal government’s incompetency, we are facing a shortfall of Rs229 billion during a global pandemic, Punjab is receiving Rs470-80 billion less, and other provinces are facing the same treatment at a time when the Centre should have supported the provinces,” he said.
“For the first time since the creation of Pakistan, the country has seen negative growth,” he lamented.
Highlighting the Sindh government’s budget, he said that the province would provide loans to the businesses affected by the pandemic. To support the agriculture sector, Sindh would give subsidy in seeds, fertilizers, and pesticides to the small farmers with a landholding smaller than 25 acres in a bid to enhance their yield, he said.
In the areas where water was scarce, the agricultural department was providing subsidy in drip irrigation and tube wells, Bilawal said.
He said that in the urban centres, loans had been arranged for businesses, while the province was aiming to provide a package to the families whose bread earners had succumbed to coronavirus.
For the women farmers, the Sindh government was providing community-based loans and soft loans.
Reacting to the criticism Sindh has been facing for its response towards coronavirus, Bilawal said that the province had the highest testing capacity per capita, free of cost treatment for patients, and free tests for the virus were being conducted in the province.
“Our Intensive Care Units (ICU) and High Dependency Units (HDU) are more in number than any other province. The [Centre] celebrated 100 days of battling coronavirus in the National Command and Control Centre, while Sindh inaugurated a 50-bedded hospital,” he said.
The PPP chairperson said that the PTI-led governments in the Centre and in the provinces were decreasing the number of tests, intentionally. “They are pushing Pakistanis towards danger.”
“Sindh is committed and we will increase our testing even if others decrease it. By lowering the testing capacity they are putting our frontline workers in danger as the nurses and paramedics won’t know who is infected and who isn’t,” he said.
“If you stop testing, then the graph will go down. But the same number of people will fall ill and die,” Bilawal said.
“If you are conducting fewer tests, it means that the contact tracing is also not being conducted and the doctors and nurses are also not being tested,” he said, adding: “This incompetent government is compromising on a fundamental concept that the whole world has been telling us — testing.”
Bilawal demanded that a risk allowance similar to that of Sindh be provided to frontline workers across the country. “PTI has left Pakistanis orphaned on all platforms, including economy, foreign policy, and now on public health,” he said.
“We have to tackle a global pandemic, a dangerous attack of locusts after 70 years, global economic recession — which has been further worsened due to selected — and with all this, we have to face political engineering. We are ready to fight these battles on every forum,” he said.
Sindh had increased tax revenues every year and even during this pandemic when the Centre was complaining that its tax collection had fallen due to the pandemic. The province has increased 8% of its total tax collection, Bilawal said.
Bilawal urged the media to report without bias on PTI’s corruption narrative as the incumbent government was the most corrupt. “You can’t spell corruption without the alphabets PTI,” Bilawal quipped.
He highlighted that Transparency International had termed Imran Khan’s government the “most corrupt” in Pakistan’s history. “Their own auditor general’s report mentions there that there have been irregularities worth Rs270 billion […] Musharraf’s first amnesty scheme was for Imran Khan.”