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ISLAMABAD: Foreign Minister and Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, Thursday claimed a PTI minister had threatened him with the imposition of martial law a night before the no-confidence resolution against ex-prime minister Imran Khan was passed.

Bilawal also warned that the next elections could be bloody if all political parties failed to reach a consensus on a basic code of conduct for polls in light of the increasing polarisation and divide in the country.

While speaking on the floor of the National Assembly, Bilawal informed that house that the PTI minister asked him to either accept early elections or martial law would be imposed in the country.

The foreign minister said that despite the PTI’s repeated attempts to defeat the no-confidence motion against the former premier, their bids were foiled and the no-trust vote was successful.

“A night before the no-confidence, I was threatened that we agree to fresh elections or there would be martial law. This threat was conveyed to me via a federal minister through one of my associates. The strategy was for the no-confidence to fail but it was unsuccessful,” he said.

He said that every institution of ours had been made controversial due to a “selected man”, adding the damage Imran Khan and his team did to the constitution, democracy and institutions is not privy to us all.

“The former PM abrogated the constitution and attacked democracy. Former PM, deputy speaker and the President on the nights of April 3rd, April 9th, and 10th and till today are abrogating the Constitution and refusing to follow it. How can this National Assembly, the Parliament ignore such an attack? Our Constitution has been torn like a piece of paper in the past as well.” he said.

He said, “We believe that on the nights of April 3rd, April 9th and 10th till today, the constitution is being attacked. It is the position of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) which has been presented before the united government, this House must form a high-level Parliamentary Commission or Committee to investigate the events leading up to April 3rd, post-April 3rd on the night of April 9th and April 10th and after that, including the game we see in the Punjab. I am saying that we should take the attack seriously, make a commission to investigate who was involved in this unconstitutional and undemocratic attack.

As far as April 3rd is concerned, the Supreme Court clearly termed it unconstitutional in its decision. The people of Pakistan expect accountability of the former government for abrogating the Constitution while trying to escape a democratic process. If we want democracy to progress and the supremacy of the House to be restored, then we have to investigate and come to the bottom of these events. In light of the investigation, we will move forward on this front.”

The PPP chairman said that since this attack was ignored, the former PM thinks that he is a sacred cow and is roaming in the country while making attacks that are against the national interest and our national standing. “This political instability is harming our economy.

He thinks he is invincible since it was ignored that a government was formed through the worst-rigged elections. He (Imran Khan) was imposed on this country for four years, ruined the economy, isolated Pakistan on the foreign front, and attacked the constitution and democracy as well as the rights of the provinces.”

He said that electricity and water crises were caused. He said that till today, be it Cholistan, Sindh or Balochistan, we are facing a water crisis. He said that the wheat crisis was first caused by the geopolitical situation. Not only do we have to handle the crisis, but Pakistan, this region and the whole world would have to face further difficulties due to the geopolitical situation arising on the horizon among Russia, Ukraine and NATO, he said.

“Due to this crisis and the Covid-19 pandemic earlier, food security is a dire problem that we have to face. In this situation, we are allowing the former PM to do as he pleases and attack wherever. I believe that the first step should be for our parliamentary commission to start the process of deciding what is to be done regarding April 3rd and the following events,” he said.

The PPP chairman said that according to Transparency International, the corruption of the last four years has surpassed all previous records. He said that we have seen how those around the former PM and First Lady were made billionaires overnight in the past four years. He said that there are irregularities in every ministry.

He said that someone should ask the former PM how there was such an increase in the wealth of the former First Lady and her friend. “How did the former PM’s own assets enormously increase in the past four years? He attacks the institutions and the judiciary and should be asked how and why he harmed Pakistan on the international level for his own politics. We have to stop this. The court and the parliament have to play their role,” he said.

Bilawal said that the former PM either wants new elections immediately or wishes to create a situation that paves the way for a third force. He said that it is not a new strategy. He said that the PPP’s policy in this regard is “first reforms, then elections”.

He said that we are a democratic force and want free and fair elections. “We have to immediately repeal the electoral bills that were to restrict the ECP and allow for the “RTS plus” in the shape of EVMs. We have to engage the civil society, FAFEN and similar organisations regarding the electoral bills, as well as other political parties to ensure that the country is not toyed with as it was in 2018,” he said.

He said that we already have a consensus that we are to implement the remaining points on the Charter of Democracy (CoD) between Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif. He said that we are working on a new CoD but a minimum code of conduct needs to be present at least. He said that we should agree on a basic code of conduct.

He said we have to give our institutions space so that they can conduct themselves in a nonpartisan, democratic and Constitutional manner, be it our judiciary or the Establishment. “If all political parties do not agree on a basic code of conduct before the next elections in the light of the increasing polarisation and divide in the county, then the next elections can be bloody. No one is ready to follow the rules of the game. What is left if there is no trust in democracy and the democratic processes? We have to agree on a basic code of conduct so that we can run the country.”

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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