PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari on Thursday said the Constitution and the Parliament were “undermined to forcibly pass” bills crucial to the requirements laid out by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) for Pakistan to exit its “grey list”.
Addressing an All Parties Conference arranged by the Pakistan Bar Council, Bilawal questioned how long the Parliament can be accepted as a mere “rubber stamp” one.
Bilawal lamented that National Assembly speaker Asad Qaiser “did not recount votes” during the legislative process, despite repeated calls from the opposition parties to do so.
Hitting out at Prime Minister Imran Khan, the PPP chairman said that people are told that they live in the State of Madinah but in this state, a woman gets raped on a motorway.
“However, the ones who are responsible for people’s security, instead of blaming the rapists, they question the victim,” he said, adding: “And the state’s ministers and prime minister come forward to defend them.”
The recent floods have affected the country severely and dealt heavy damage to the crops, however, no one is raising voice for the people of the state in the mainstream media, he said.
“Our political parties should remember that when the floods hit the country in 2011, Watan Card was launched [by the PPP government] to compensate the affectees,” Bilawal said.
“Today, no one is ready to support or compensate the affected people and we call this state, the state of Madinah.”
The PPP chairperson said that in the state of Madinah, freedom of expression was guaranteed. “In this state, even the so-called leaders do not have the authority to do so.”
Bilawal said that the political parties’ complaints about the National Accountability Bureau were old, but during the incumbent government’s tenure even the media is not free to report.
Bilawal said that when PPP had earlier called for defending the 18th amendment and the National Finance Commission, people said that the PPP was “defending its corruption”.
However, now, I am happy that many parties are supporting us, Bilawal said.
“Only because we had revived the Constitution of 1973 through the 18th Amendment,” he said.
“The only problem in that [passing the 18th Amendment] was that we had given the Parliament the authority to make decisions regarding the judges and they — honourable members of the judiciary and some political leaders — perceived it as a threat,” he said.
“The way and procedure of judges’ appointments should be decided by the people and the forum of the people is the Parliament,” he said.
Bilawal hoped that after the APC, the opposition would get rid of this “hybrid government to free the country”.
Media’s suppression unlike ‘ever before’
Furthermore, PML-N president Shehbaz Sharif said that the media in Pakistan today is being suppressed to an unprecedented level.
“Media workers have sacrificed their lives and struggled to get their freedom,” he said, adding: “Editor-in-Chief Jang and Geo Group Mir Shakeel-ur-Rehman is being subjected to injustice.”
Talking about the judiciary, he said that the situation has taken a negative turn and despite pressure, some judges who hand out judgments based on justice.
However, he said that some judges who were like Arshad Malik, the suspended judge who was involved in the video case scandal.
“They are causing irreparable damage to the justice system,” he said, terming such judges as “black sheep”.
Shehbaz said that dwelling in the past won’t do good for anyone and that people should accept their mistakes.
“We have also made mistakes but for how long will we continue to watch this spectacle,” he said.
The PML-N president — speaking about the justice system — said that the “black coats” have also made several sacrifices for the country.
“The outcome of the sacrifices can be debated on,” he said.
Shehbaz, speaking of the opposition, said that they were not facing accountability, rather the government exacting “revenge” on them.
The PML-N president also reacted to the premier’s speech in the joint session of the Parliament, where he said that it looks like the Sharif’s were born in Buckingham Palace and not Gawalmandi.
“We have a prime minister that doesn’t know that every area of the country is sacred,” he said.
Shehbaz said that the prime minister made a speech that “no one thought he would” make.
“Accountability cannot be done if faces are considered and not cases,” he said, adding that half of the people in the cabinet are those who cannot be saved if they are held accountable, calling for across-the-board accountability.
“To resolve the issues of Balochistan, a lot of funds are needed,” he said, adding that during the PPP’s tenure, Punjab took it upon itself to resolve the issues of other provinces.