Bilawal warns of long march to save 18th Amendment

Minister for Railways Sheikh Rasheed press conference today

KHAIRPUR: Pakistan Peoples Party chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari has warned against any attempt to roll back the 18th Amendment and said he is ready to launch a struggle, even a long march, to foil such attempts.

He was talking to journalists after jointly inaugurating the Gambat Medical College with Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah on Tuesday.

Mr Bhutto-Zardari said the Sindh government had upgraded health facilities like the National Institute of Cardio-Vascular Diseases and the National Institute of Child Health and, as a result, heart surgeries were being conducted free of cost in the province. Earlier, when these organisations were under the control of the federal government, they were run on donations.

He said some forces wanted to abolish the 18th Amendment so that they could snatch control of different institutions from the provinces, but the PPP would not let them do it. He said that the party would also adopt a legal course to retain control of the hospitals.Asked about the perceived attempts to introduce a presidential system in the country, the PPP leader said he had warned during his election campaign that some people wanted to bring in a dummy government to abolish the 18th Amendment and other provisions of the Constitution so that a presidential system could be introduced in the country. “These people have not learnt a lesson from the past,” he said.

He said that the only suitable system for Pakistan was the parliamentary system because the country comprised people speaking different languages and their representation could only be ensured in a parliamentary system.

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He called for a halt to injustices being meted out to Sindh, saying whenever a ‘selected’ government came to power, supply of water and gas to the province was interrupted and its monetary share (in the divisible pool) was manipulated. However, he added, “we are not going to tolerate it and will secure Sindh’s monetary share and due rights”.

He questioned if there was any country in the world where the budget was presented thrice a year and taxes were rescheduled again and again. How the economy would be run in these circumstances, Mr Bhutto-Zardari asked.

He said there was no relief for poor people, labourers and peasants in any of these budgets; however, the last budget did provide relief to Prime Minister Imran Khan’s sister.

Replying to a question, the PPP leader said the issue of missing persons in Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and other parts of the country was beyond comprehension. “Families of missing persons are running from pillar to post for the recovery of their dear and near ones, but it seems that there are no human rights in the country,” he said.

While seeking cooperation of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement and the Balochistan National Party-Mengal to form his government, Imran Khan had promised to ensure recovery of missing persons, but unfortunately the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf government had made no effort in this regard, he said.

The PPP leader suggested that all political parties should come on one page to resolve the issue of missing persons. He said parliament was the forum where problems of people could be solved but sadly Mr Khan did not attend its proceedings and “people working behind him” were not interested in solving any issue, which would damage the entire system.

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