Home Latest News Bilawal Backs Judicial Inquiry into May 9 Riots

Bilawal Backs Judicial Inquiry into May 9 Riots

PPP chairman calls for ending all subsidies to businesses, stressing Pakistan cannot afford to be a ‘welfare state for the elite’

by Staff Report

Screengrab of PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari addressing the National Assembly

Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari on Monday supported the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI)’s demand for the formation of a judicial commission to probe the May 9 riots, but conditioned it to the party accepting its results regardless of the outcome.

In a speech in the National Assembly, the former foreign minister referred to Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Ali Amin Gandapur’s remarks regarding an inquiry into the saga. PTI leaders Omar Ayub Khan, Asad Qaiser and Gohar Ali Khan have also stated similar demands.

“I endorse this,” he said, amidst chanting of slogans by PTI and Sunni Ittehad Council members over his criticism of PTI founder Imran Khan. “But the PTI must assure us that it will accept the decision of the judicial commission … it is not possible that someone attacks our institutions, the martyr’s memorials and we forget it,” he said.

“We cannot take our politics forward unless we address this issue and this is the reason why the PPP appeals to the P.M. to form a judicial commission,” he said, adding Supreme Court Chief Justice Qazi Faez Isa should form the commission.

The PPP chairman also extended his party’s support to the PTI’s demand for electoral reforms following allegations of irregularities during the Feb. 8 polls. Condemning the ruckus and constant sloganeering during the National Assembly session that saw Shehbaz Sharif elected as prime minister, he said this was not a suitable venue for such protests.

“The people of Pakistan are tired of poverty, unemployment and inflation,” he said. “They did not give you their vote for you to come here and abuse each other and create a ruckus,” he said. “They voted only so we can save them from this economic crisis,” he added.

At one point, Bhutto-Zardari came under fire from the PTI lawmakers after he criticized Imran Khan’s use of a classified cipher for political gains. “If you think the people of Pakistan are a fool, then you are wrong. We all know that someone on purpose printed that alleged copy of the cipher,” he said, referring to the alleged publication of the cipher in a U.S.-based news outlet.

“If I violate the Constitution, then have me punished 100 times, but if someone from that side violates the Constitution, then have them punished,” he said, referring to the opposition, prompting chants and slogans from the SIC and PTI ranks.

Backing P.M.-elect Shehbaz Sharif’s call for a charter of national reconciliation, he said all newly-elected chief minister should play their role to save Pakistan’s “democracy and economy.” Stressing that the PPP fully supported Sharif’s suggestion, he said the opposition should also participate in the process.

Referring to Sharif’s speech, he said he welcomed the announcement to give subsidies to farmers directly rather than to companies. He said all subsidies to businesses should be withdrawn. “We cannot afford to be a social welfare state for the rich,” he said, recommending that the P.M. create provincial revenue boards and set targets for collecting sales tax.

The PPP chairman noted the country has been unsuccessful in judicial and election reforms, requesting that conversations be had on both these topics. He said such reforms were essential to avoid scenes such as those witnessed in the National Assembly a day earlier, stressing that the people who indulged in such activities had “no idea” of how precious every single vote was. “If we can address these, then no power in the world can weaken Pakistan’s democracy,” he said.

Bhutto-Zardari also urged older lawmakers, “many of whom have been in this House six times,” to make decisions that benefit the youth and coming generations. “Past decisions that have been made have completely ruined the country,” he said, while expressing disappointment at the “abuse” he saw hurled on the floor of the House during Sharif’s election. “What is the nation seeing? We have reached a dangerous point,” he warned.

He also condemned the violence that claimed the lives of several electoral candidates and workers ahead of the general elections. “In Pakistan, elections are such that candidates get killed while contesting elections. We need to ensure this does not happen,” he said. “I hope we can do work that lets me tell families that their sacrifice was not in vain,” he added.

Related Articles

Leave a Comment