ISLAMABAD: Pakistan People’s Party Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari has said the ongoing “political battle” is not between the PPP, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) or the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM), rather it is a struggle between those who uphold the Constitution and those who disregard it.
Speaking on the floor of the National Assembly (NA) on Saturday, he said electoral reforms were on the agenda of his party and that of allied parties because the country could only make progress through free and fair elections.
Bhutto-Zardari said the PTI government did not fulfill the promises it made and Prime Minister Imran Khan lost the confidence of a large majority of legislators.
He expressed the view that the prime minister was scared of free and fair polls as he knew that he would be defeated in the elections in the same way as he was defeated in by-elections. Amjid Ali Khan Niazi, who was presiding over the session at the time, gave the floor to Bhutto-Zardari after Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi had addressed the legislators.
The PPP chief said it was Qureshi who was responsible for the current problems of Prime Minister Khan and that those who were advising the premier were only thinking of themselves.
He said that a minister had wrongly advised the prime minister, president and the speaker on critical issues, and as a result the Constitution was violated on April 3. “Such companions will (only) land him in trouble,” he said and assailed the prime minister for being absent from the session at time.
He exhorted the chair to hold the assembly’s proceedings in accordance with the verdict that the Supreme Court of Pakistan gave on Thursday, as any delay in voting on the opposition’s no-confidence motion would be deemed a “violation of the Constitution”.
“You cannot take up anything except for what is on the agenda. Not only you (but) the speaker also did the same,” Bhutto-Zardari said to Niazi, calling for immediate voting on the motion against the prime minister.
However, Niazi told the PPP chairman that the court can’t intervene in parliamentary matters as per Article 69 of the Constitution. Bhutto-Zardari replied that violation of law could lead to disqualification and that the apex court had set aside the speaker’s ruling in the very recent past.
He said the government had lost its majority in the assembly. “We can debate on foreign conspiracy for 100 days but first conduct the voting,” he remarked.
The PPP leader alleged that the government had told several lies during the ongoing political saga. The purported conversation between the Pakistani ambassador and the US official took place on March 7 and the no-confidence papers were presented to the assembly secretariat on March 8, he said.
“But there is a time difference between Pakistan and America, which means that papers of the no-trust motion were being presented as the ambassador’s conversation was under way.”
Bhutto-Zardari asked why was the foreign minister not present at the meeting of the National Security Committee. He also pointed out that the official statement issued after that meeting did not mention the no-trust motion. “It just included a decision to issue a demarche.”
He said if there was a conspiracy against the government, Prime Minister Khan should have taken action immediately.