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Friday, April 19, 2024

Bilawal vs. Shah Mehmood: PPP uses ‘Sindh card’ like always

The relationship between the PPP government in Sindh and the central government appears to be deteriorating in the wake of COVID-19. Analysts are mulling over if the PPP will use Sindh card to contain PTI’s influence in the province? Read this report to understand what is going on under the surface.

Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto has demanded that the foreign minister either withdraw his statement, mentioning Sindh card, against PPP or resign from his position. The demand came after being criticized for the second consecutive day by Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi in the Parliament House.

The foreign minister had earlier addressed a session of the Senate, where he spoke at length about PPP’s style of governance and the participation of the province in national decision-making.

FM Qureshi had said that the PPP was focused on only provincial politics rather than thinking for the entire country. He also said that it was not true that the federal government had abandoned Sindh.

In reaction to Qureshi’s criticism, Bilawal had said that the minister had also accused him of using the ‘Sindh card’. Bilawal said that he had been raising his voice for issues pertaining to the provinces, without any such intention in mind.

Responding to Qureshi’s comments that the PTI will make inroads in Sindh as it did in other provinces such as Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Bilawal had said: “What sort of politics is this? What do you mean you will prove your political mettle in Sindh?”

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

There is already a testy relationship between Sindh and the center as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak in Pakistan. The former accused the later of being confused and incompetent to combat the virus. The federal government, on the other hand, accused the PPP of mismanaging the situation, ultimately leading to a greater number of cases. Sources told GVS that in order to reduce tensions between the Center and Sindh, the premier has ordered Dr. Shahbaz Gill not to appear on media for unnecessarily provoking the opposition.

PPP using Sind card?

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.

Back in 2019, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari 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.

“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 further said that “After Bangladesh, Sindhudesh, Seraikidesh, and Pukhtundesh can be formed.”

Read More: Asif Ali Zardari’s Sindh card won’t work anymore, claims Aleem Khan

The same Foreign Minister urged the PPP chairman not to create an impression for the world that there is ‘a wave of provincial discrimination’ in Pakistan.

It is worth recalling that after decades of political marginalization and economic exploitation the people of East Pakistan were 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 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 a government which led to the break-up of Pakistan.