PPP Chairperson Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari on Monday said the federal government was trying to “steal” the National Finance Commission (NFC) Award share and constitutional rights of the people of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa but the opposition alliance will not allow that to happen.
Addressing the latest rally of the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) in KP’s Malakand district, Bilawal said the government did not know how to run the country and that every resident of Malakand was demanding ‘Go selected go!’.
“They are trying to steal your right. They want to steal the Constitution but as long as the people of Malakand are standing with us, we will not allow them to do so,” he told the crowd.
Bilawal said the PPP had introduced the 18th Amendment to get provinces recognition and their rights. “Nobody can dare to steal your right. We will not let them steal your NFC Award and constitutional right,” he said, referring to Islamabad.
The PPP leader claimed that the Centre had withheld Rs160 billion which was due to be paid to KP last year.
“This was KP’s money, not Islamabad’s. Imagine how many youths we could have gotten livelihoods for with that money but this puppet government wants to steal that from you. They do not know how to serve [the country],” he said.
Bilawal told the rally that the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor was envisioned by the PPP to pass through KP “but till today this inefficient government has kept you away from it”, adding that while KP produced more gas than it needed, it was not given its due share.
Referring to the PTI-led government, he said the ones who promised tabdeeli (change) lied to the public.
“The people of Malakand have been tolerating this inefficient, illegitimate government for the past seven years. […] Whatever they promised turned out to be lies and betrayals,” he said, adding that the PPP had fulfilled whatever promises it made to the people of Malakand.
Bilawal said the PPP had announced the end of the Frontier Crimes Regulation (FCR) and later implemented it. “The people here have always struggled along with the PPP, fought against the dictators and taken back their rights. I am standing in the same Malakand and promising you that together we will make these puppets run away, end the selected raj and restore real democracy and establish people’s raj,” he added.
He said the people of Malakand were brave and its youth made terrorists run away when “even the United States couldn’t”.
“We pay tribute to your bravery and courage and we remember when you were fighting these terrorists, who was standing with you and who was standing with the terrorists,” he told the rally.
Bilawal said while the PPP had united the entire nation to help the army’s fight against terrorists, the “cowardly Imran Khan was afraid of taking the names of terrorists and wanted to open offices for them, but the brave people here stood with the Pak Army and defeated the terrorists”.
Recalling the region’s history of suffering from terrorism, the PPP leader alleged that when the Army Public School in Peshawar came under attack, “Imran Khan was dancing at Aabpara Chowk”.
“The murderer of our children, [former Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan spokesman] Ehsanullah Ehsan, has been released by this government of Imran Khan; we have not been able to provide justice to the parents of APS children in this government. We cannot show our faces to them [to tell them that] the murderer of your children was in our grasp and this cowardly government of Imran Khan allowed him to escape,” he said.
Bilawal also criticised the government’s response to the killing of Hazara Shia coal miners in Balochistan’s Mach area. He said the relatives of the deceased were protesting for their right to live but the premier had termed the deceased and their families “blackmailers”.
“What justice is this? Instead of going to them (Hazaras) for condoling, he called them,” the PPP chairman said, adding that the government had not been able to provide justice to even a single martyr.
“Until we get justice and until we bring terrorists under the ambit of law, we will be ashamed in front of our martyrs.”
‘Resign before nation pushes you out’
In his speech, Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman said the PTI was in power due to the financial backing of “Israel and India”.
He said the PDM would protest outside the Election Commission of Pakistan on January 19 to push for the foreign funding case against the PTI to be concluded.
A ‘million march’ will also be staged in Karachi on Jan 21 with the theme of ‘Israel rejected’, he announced.
“Before the nation pushes you out, resign and go home; you still have a few days left,” Rehman said, addressing Prime Minister Imran.
Before leaving for Malakand earlier in the day, Bilawal asked people to join in the “march against inflation, corruption and injustices of 7 years of incompetent, illegitimate and puppet rule of PTI which has pushed KP & now all of Pakistan into crisis”.
The PPP chairperson was accompanied by former prime ministers Yousuf Raza Gilani and Raja Pervez Ashraf, according to the party’s media cell. Other party leaders, including Farhatullah Babar, Nayyar Bokhari and Sherry Rehman were also part of the entourage.
Along the way, Bilawal first addressed workers at Sakha Kot and then at Dargai Pathak.
PPP leader Faisal Karim Kundi said the venue for the rally, hosted by the PPP, was changed “at the last minute due to security reasons”.
The rally was originally scheduled to be held at the Zafar Park in Malakand.
JUI-F chief Rehman reached the venue through the Swat Expressway.
Last week, the PDM had held a rally in KP’s Bannu. However, Bilawal and PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz did not attend that rally.
During the Bannu gathering, Maulana Fazl had lashed out at the PTI government over recent terrorism incidents in the country, including the brutal massacre of the 11 Shia Hazara miners in Balochistan, saying that the incidents showed that the government’s claims of having established peace were “wrong”.
In his speech, Rehman accused the government of having “ruined” peace and the country’s economy, and claimed that there was no system in the tribal areas.
The PDM has demanded the PTI-led government quit by January 31 or face an intensified opposition movement, including a long march to the capital.