Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari on Sunday continued his broadsides against the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz), while also getting in a dig at the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) by claiming its loss of an electoral symbol had left only two parties in the running for the Feb. 8 polls.
“Now that there is no bat, the contest will be between the arrow and the lion,” he told a rally in Sindh’s Khairpur district, referring to the electoral symbols of the PTI, PPP and PMLN, respectively. A day earlier, the Supreme Court upheld an Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) order withdrawing the PTI’s electoral symbol over contested intra-party polls, with the party’s candidates now forced to run as independent candidates.
Claiming Sindh had “bad” memories of PMLN leader Nawaz Sharif’s previous three tenures as prime minister, he questioned why they should accept him in the slot a fourth time. “We will fight and we will hunt the lion,” he said, accusing the rival party of “hiding” from the public.
Urging the party’s workers and supporters to undertake a door-to-door campaign to apprise the public of his 10-point agenda to revive the national economy, he claimed the PPP’s rivals did not have any public-oriented manifestos. He accused the PMLN of wanting to roll back the 18th Amendment and reduce the provincial share in the National Finance Commission (NFC) award, as it believed this had shrank the federal coffers. “I say that funds were there but you stole them and the bureaucracy in Islamabad has occupied the resources,” he alleged, reiterating that if elected to power, he would dissolve “useless” ministries that required Rs. 300 billion to operate, as well as Rs. 1,500 billion in subsidies for the country’s elite. These funds, he claimed, would be channeled for the welfare of peasants, laborers and youth.
Claiming he had not seen any public health facilities in Punjab on par with those in Sindh, he also slammed PTI founder Imran Khan for failing to fulfill a promise to build five million homes for the poor. The PPP’s government in Sindh, he claimed, had in contrast already made headway in building two million houses for flood affected people. If the PPP gets elected into power at the center, he claimed, it would also build 3 million addition homes nationwide for the poor.
Bhutto-Zardari also claimed a PPP government would not indulge in politics of revenge or hatred, as its foes were poverty, unemployment and inflation. “We will not engage in politics of hatred, division, and revenge. Instead, we will solve problems by uniting everyone. Other parties lack ideology and a clear manifesto. The leaders are oblivious to people’s sufferings and only focus on how to evade jail,” he said.