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Sunday, November 26, 2023

Bilawal threatens the state: Will Sindh card work for PPP?

PPP threatens that invoking article 149 will lead to provinces breaking away from Pakistan. PPP does not enjoy popular support in Karachi. Can it claim to be the spokesperson for the people of Karachi?

News Desk |

Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, Chairman Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), has once again warned the federal government of dire consequence if it “does not stop controlling Sindh”. PPP chairman threatened the state of creating “many states” if it does not adhere to their reservations. Analysts believe that the statements of Bilawal are of much importance. However, he spoke without much deliberation.

PPP chairman was addressing a press conference at the Hyderabad Press Club along with Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah when he said that running a country is not like playing cricket match. The government is playing with the Constitution but they will save the country with their blood.

Read more: Zardari just said Muhajirs had nothing to do with the creation of Pakistan

Bilawal maintained that any attempt to control Karachi may lead to destabilization and political chaos. He also quoted examples from the past. “This country has already been broken in the past when Islamabad had tried to control the state. It’s not like those people who were less patriotic than you or me […] If PPP and other likeminded parties don’t stand up tomorrow, separate Sindhi, Seraiki, Pashtun states might be formed,” he warned. He said that after Bangladesh, Sindhudesh, Seraikidesh and Pukhtundesh can be formed.

The PPP chairman further said government policies are killing farmers, businessmen and ordinary citizens. Pakistan dismembered, he said, in the past due to such policies. PPP chairman believes that PM Imran Khan has made people political prisoners in the name of accountability and it will unacceptable if the affairs of Karachi are being run from Islamabad.

He was referring to the dismemberment of East Pakistan (now Bangladesh). However, Bilawal apparently missed the point and tried to link the break of Pakistan with mil-establishment and its role in political engineering. It is important to explore some historical facts to draw objective conclusions.

After decades of political marginalization and economic exploitation the people of East Pakistan were also given appropriate political representation under a one man – one vote formula. In 1970, General Yahya Khan announced elections which proved deterministic in the future of the country. Awami League managed to win 298 seats in the provincial assembly of the East Pakistan. PPP could not win even a single seat. Similarly, At the National Assembly elections, the Awami emerged as the majority party with 161 seats as compared to PPP which got only 88 seats. It is widely believed that it was the insistence of PPP’s leadership not to allow the Awami League to form government which led to break-up of Pakistan.

After linking with East Pakistan tragedy, PPP chairman tried to associate PM Khan with PM Modi. “You try to build a narrative against Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi saying that he unconstitutionally captured occupied Kashmir and at the same time you try to occupy Karachi. This is bizzare,” Bilawal said. He said Prime Minister Imran Khan who has vowed to protect human rights in [occupied] Kashmir has ripped apart democratic rights of the people of Pakistan. “You want to run Karachi from Islamabad?” he asked.

For many political commentators such strong statements are the reflection of political helplessness of the party and its chairman.

Bilawal Bhutto lashed out at the federal government for trying to “occupy Karachi” following Law Minister Farogh Naseem’s statement that the Centre was considering taking over the administrative affairs of the metropolis through a little known constitutional provision.

Invoking article 149:

On Wednesday, Naseem told a TV channel that a strategic committee on Karachi was going to recommend to Prime Minister Imran Khan that he should invoke Article 149 for the uplift of Karachi.

Read more: Fight men, not women: Bilawal Bhutto’s weird take on Maryam’s arrest

After getting approval of the cabinet, the provision will be exercised. In case of any resistance shown by the provincial government, they will approach the Supreme Court under Article 184(1) of the Constitution to seek a directive in this regard. If the province still shows reluctance, they will file a contempt petition in the SC, he said.

The minister had told news channels that it was his personal view that the Centre should take over Karachi’s affairs. Any decision was likely to be taken by the premier during his visit to the metropolis on September 14, he added.

PPP using identity cards

PPP has been using different identity cards to seek political support. Initially, it claimed that the PTI government was attempting to roll back the 18th amendment which in their view was meant to control Sindh. Therefore, the PPP leadership used Sindh card. After the JIT came up with some evidence against Asif Ali Zardari and his sister, the party argued that it was being targeted for being Sindhi. As a matter of fact, PML-N’s leadership was already facing the courts despite being from Lahore, Punjab.

Now when the federal government is considering to invoke article 149 on administrative basis because the PPP government has failed to deliver in the metropolis. The party has once again used Sindh card to target its political opponent.

However, the PPP is unlikely to benefit from the Sindh card for an obvious reason; PPP does not enjoy popular support in Karachi where people are apparently demanding for the exercise of article 149.