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Ignoring GB in CPEC ‘major injustice’: Bilawal

PPP chief directs manifesto committee to highlight public issues

July 20, 2017

ISLAMABAD - Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) chief Bilawal Bhutto Zardari on Wednesday said ignoring Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) was “great injustice”.

He, while addressing a meeting of PPP GB here said that the party would not remain silent on the issue.

Bilawal demanded inclusion of GB in the CPEC, said a party statement.

He said that elections in the country should be held on the same day including in Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) and GB.

“This will strengthen our country,” Bilawal added.

He asked Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif not to target the people of GB just because they still loved Zulfikar Ali Bhutto.

“The government has totally ignored the area in development projects and it is very unfortunate that the projects initiated by the PPP government have also been stopped,” Bilawal claimed.

He congratulated PPP GB for winning the recent by-election.

The meeting was attended by PPP provincial President Amjad Hussain, Jamil Ahmed, Zafar Iqbal, Imran Nadeem, Sadia Danish, Muhammad Musa, Muhammad Ali Akhtar and newly-elected member of the legislative assembly Javed Hussain.

Meanwhile, Bilawal on Wednesday instructed the party’s Manifesto Committee to complete its work and present recommendations in August.

The meeting of Manifesto Committee of the PPP was held at Zardari House here.

The meeting was attended by Syed Nayyar Hussain Bukhari, Senator Farhatullah Babar, Senator Saleem Mandviwala, Senator Sherry Rehman, Dr Azra Fazal Pecheho, Dr Nafeesa Shah, Sabir Baloch, Akhundzada Chatan and Abdul Qadir Shaheen.

Bilawal, while addressing the participants said that the focus in the manifesto should be on the basic needs of the people.

He said that Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was thinking of the people even in the gallows and Benazir Bhutto wanted to provide a better future to the children of the nation and this was her focus of politics.

“She returned to the country [in 2007] only for the sake of the people,” the PPP chief said. Bilawal asked the committee to cover the need of every field and their requirements in the manifesto.

Meanwhile, PPP Vice President Senator Sherry Rehman said that on Wednesday said that Zulfikar Ali Bhutto did not strike a deal with the any dictator unlike Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

Reacting to the PM’s speech in Sialkot, she said that military ruler Ziaul Haq had returned the Ittefaq Foundry to the Sharif family for just a single rupee and also donated millions of rupees to him.

In a statement, Sherry Rehman said Nawaz Sharif was now dubbing the courts and the state as “Meena bazaar” or a “joke”, which was very unfortunate.

“If it is just a drama, the Sharif family is responsible for it. They should end this drama by providing the money trail,” she contended. Sherry Rehman said that only a few days ago, PM Sharif was equating himself to Bhutto and now he was turning his guns towards the PPP.

She said that Bhutto was controversially executed during Ziaul Haq’s regime.

“The ruling family is running away from accountability. This is not political revenge but accountability,” Sherry Rehman maintained.

The PPP leader said that the country was being pushed to the Dark Ages due to the power shortage but the government was not ready to accept any failure.

“The trade deficit is now $99 billion but the PM is claiming that the business and investment is touching the skies,” the senator added.

She said that the corruption of the Sharif family had been exposed after the joint investigation team (JIT)’s report so they should better leave.

In a separate statement on Wednesday, PPP’s Senator Farhatullah Babar demanded that the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA)’s report on the arrests made under the Cyber Crime Act be placed in the parliament as required by the act.

He also called for legislation under Article 19 of the Constitution so that freedom of expression was not unduly stifled behind vague references to national security and protecting the honour of the armed forces.

Cases against social media activists had increased after a blanket order issued recently by the interior ministry, Babar said.

About one 1,000 cases have reportedly been registered in a short span of time, he said adding, “the parliament must know how many cases, the charges and the courts where accused are tried.”

Last month, Babar said, a young journalist was arrested in Quetta for his Facebook posts asking journalists whether they knew that Frontier Corps was taking 10 per cent commission from owners of coalmines and for allegedly uploading video of a lawmaker involved in a hit-and-run case of traffic warden in Quetta.

“The FC should have come out clean with facts about the alleged commission instead of the FIA arresting the journalist,” he added.

Babar said that the freedom of expression was under threat from non-state actors in the name of faith.  It was now increasingly threatened by the state also in name of “national security”.

He said that the national security mantra was being overplayed to the detriment of transparency, accountability and freedom of expression.

“When questions were asked recently about the allotment of 900 acres of land to a recently retired general the people were warned against “maligning the army” and creating tensions between state institutions,” Babar said.

Seeking freedom from all kinds of comments and criticism will not benefit the armed forces nor the judiciary or any other public institution.

Total freedom from public comment will only damage our national institutions.

He said that Article 19 of the Constitution guarantees freedom of expression and that any limitations have to be reasonable and only under a law.

Babar said that offering alternate security narratives was not undermining security or defaming the military.

“It should be seen as strengthening national security,” he said


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