Imran’s ‘selection’ damaged country: FM

F.P. Report

ISLAMABAD: Chairman Pakistan Peoples Party, Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari addressing a press conference at Zardari House Islamabad, said that a man was imposed on the country and the people had to tolerate him as their Prime Minister.

This has adverse impacts not only on the political environment but Pakistan and its democracy. The harm that was done to the progress made between 2008 and 2013 is before everyone. The Pakistani nation is bearing the burden of the harm that was inflicted on the country and its foreign and economic policies.

The economy of the country and the world at large is suffering due to recession, Covid-19, Ukraine-Russia conflict and Pakistan is one of the countries most impacted by climate change unfortunately. However, Pakistan’s economy was so heavily impacted by its own PM that it was on the brink of default. Pakistan’s standing internationally was not harmed because of its policy or people but the ego and character of a PM. The common man is carrying that burden.

Imran Khan’s long march does not have a democratic goal. He has only done politics on the shoulders of undemocratic forces. When the institutional decision was taken for Pakistan’s institutions to transition towards a constitutional role instead of a controversial one, which was welcomed by everyone, some characters and lobbies were threatened. A constitutional role would mean that their political business would come to an end. Imran Khan is making efforts to sabotage this transition by any means ever since. Imran Khan and similar politicians feel that their political future is linked to the institution’s controversial role.

This is the reason why Imran Khan made every possible try to sabotage the first ever successful democratic and constitutional no-confidence motion at a time when the institutions were apolitical.

He said: “I am on the record to have said that the government of the time threatened us with either a martial law or new elections”. Then, to hinder the transition, Imran Khan deliberately tried to create a constitutional crisis by abrogating the House. They either wanted a martial law or new elections.
That effort fortunately proved to be unsuccessful.

Then, Imran Khan tried again in May, and burned the city of Islamabad. Imran also attempted to sabotage the IMF deal that was being negotiated to emerge from the very economic crisis that he himself had left the country in. He tried to convince the institution that their democratic experiment, the transition from a controversial to constitutional role was failing and that either martial law or fresh elections were the option. That attempt too was unsuccessful.

When we were initiating the no-confidence motion, we insisted that there would be no sit-in or violence. When it was suggested by our allies, we opposed it as to not pave the way for a third force. Foreign minister said that when all the political parties of the country were trying to remove Khan through a constitutional process, Khan stooped so low as to offer a lifetime extension.

That offer was rejected. The rejection was an example of prioritising the country and institution over oneself.

Now, we are sending a message to Imran Khan and the undemocratic forces. Stop playing this game. Neither Pakistan, nor its people can afford this. The precedent you are setting now is very dangerous for Pakistan’s future. Chairman Bilawal said that if ‘Haqeeqi Azaadi’ and democracy are Imran Khgan’s goals, if he does not want to thwart the transition to a constitutional role, then why has Mr. Khan chosen the very weak in which the appropriate files must move to the appropriate ministries for the nomination of the new COAS? Why has Pindi been chosen if the goal is not to push Pakistan towards dictatorship? This makes it obvious that the goal of Imran Khan’s backers is to make this legal and constitutional process controversial and to play with the country’s destiny once again. We cannot afford such politics for the sake of one man’s ego.

Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said that I”t is my demand from Imran Khan to let this process conclude in a constitutional and legal manner. He can then hold a gathering in Rawalpindi or Islamabad as he wishes and can keep repeating his demands. Imran Khan should not believe that he is fooling anyone by orchestrating this drama during this week in Pindi. “Everyone knows what your goal is, which is to play with the country once again”. This is Khan’s last-ditch effort to sabotage the democratic transition. He is attempting to threaten us again with the same threat as he did before. PPP and its Jiyalas have made such conspiracies unsuccessful before and will do so again.

“We are making this demand from you because we are all politicians and will do politics in Pakistan. Pakistan will only prosper when we bid farewell to such politics and games that are toying with the country’s system”. Responding to questions, Chairman Bilawal said that in 2014, President Xi’s visit to Pakistan was unfortunately delayed because Khan prioritised his ego over it. The burden again was carried by the Pakistani people and not Khan. As the Foreign Minister, I cannot say that the Saudi Crown Prince, Muhammad Bin Salman’s visit was delayed solely to the situation caused by Khan. His visit to other countries was also delayed but I believe that the political situation in the country at the time might have played a role in the decision as well.

Chairman Bilawal said that the purpose of the news conference was to inform the people of the conspiracy that is being done to make a constitutional process controversial. He appealed to Imran Khan to come to his senses. As far as legal action against Imran is concerned, the law and interior ministries can answer.

As far as the appointment of the Army Chief is concerned, it is legally the prerogative of the Prime Minister. The country will accept the appointment made by the PM. The PPP is of the same view and will support the constitutional and legal appointment made by the PM. I do not have to the chair a political party or be the foreign minister to be able to see what Imran Khan is trying to do. It is obvious to everyone that Imran Khan is trying to make a constitutional process controversial. Imran Khan can avoid all of this by announcing an appropriate date for the long march that does not clash with the appointment of the Army Chief.

Replying to a question he said that when we wanted to go to Pindi, there was no such appointment or process taking place. We wanted to hold the 27th December gathering in the very city where Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto was martyred. Imran Khan is mistaken to think that he will get any political benefit by harming the democracy of the country. History is witness to how whenever democracy is attacked, only undemocratic forces benefit.

Owing to the situation caused by the floods, the Party made the decision to celebrate the Party’s Foundation Day district-wise. A centralised function is not taking place. Floods are the priorities. “I cancelled my tour of Europe when no one could predict just how worse the situation was going to get. All my trips including that to the United Nations were to raise awareness regarding the situation. If this issue is not addressed and resolved, the economic impact will be felt throughout the country. When Covid-19 hit, we prioritised the country over our politics”.

As far as President Alvi’s character is concerned, he unconstitutionally tried to dissolve the assembly. This is his last chance to let everything take place according to the law and constitution. If he tries to create an issue, he would have to face the consequences. Answering a question regarding the JIT formed by the Punjab government on the attack on Imran Khan, Chairman Bilawal said that even if there is not a federal representative in it, the investigation should take place in an unbiased manner. If it is conducted in a fair manner, then everyone would accept it. If politics is done here too, then it would too be an attempt at making things controversial.

Answering another question, Chairman Bilawal said that he does not wish to see Pakistani politics take the route it is taking now. He does not wish for a politician to say ‘Zindabad’ for one general and ‘Murdabad’ for another. As far as Governor KP is concerned, it was to go to the ANP and the PDM should think whether not forming consensus over this would give an advantage to Imran Khan. As far as the Governor’s rule in Punjab is concerned, I would like to advise Imran Khan to not compel us to make a decision that we do not want to take. Chairman Bilawal said that he has confidence in PM Shehbaz and his economic team when it comes to helping the country emerge from this financial turmoil.