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Will Bilawal’s rhetoric on farmers’ plight in South Punjab give political mileage to PPP?

Southern

News Analysis |

Addressing a massive gathering at Qila Kohna Qasim Bagh Stadium in Multan, Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari reprimanded the incumbent government yet again for its flaws and ill-defined priorities.

Bilawal accused PML-N of the backwardness of the province and claimed “Lahore’s flower budget is higher than South Punjab’s health budget.”

In laying down his future policy initiatives, Bilawal said, PPP will ensure:

  • Abolishing the general sales tax (GST) on agriculture,
  • Input cost control mechanism
  • Support prices for crops before harvest
  • Equal distribution of irrigation water
  • Introduction to cooperative farming

Bilawal argued that he would ensure that his policies benefit the small farmers, unlike the corporate agriculture, which only boosts the revenues of wealthy landlords and capitalists.

Speaking about the ideological stance of PPP, Bilawal said PPP has never used religion to gain political mileage. He expressed concern over the use of religion in politics in the country. He delinked politics and religion.

The incumbent government should formulate a sound strategy, ensuring that subsidy proliferates to poor domestic farmers, and they get the adequate education and training, to improve competitiveness.

Commenting on the religious parties who paralyzed the twin-city for three weeks, the PPP chairman emphasized that Islam in Pakistan is not in danger. He was of a view that the way religious parties are attaining popularity in the country, there is a growing fear of extremism and sectarianism.

Read more: 50 years on what does the future hold for PPP

Bilawal attempted to link the much-criticized alliance between Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf and Maulana Sami-ul-Haq in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) with his anti-extremist rhetoric. He lambasted Imran for his extremist mindset and targeted his apparently weak link. He termed Imran an ideological soldier of Sami-ul-Haq. Moreover, Khan was condemned for lack of vision to address the youth of this country.

PML-N also came under a barrage of attacks. Bilawal mocked Nawaz for saying that, “He is an ideology.” Contrary to claims that his politics were of ideology, he may not even know the meaning of the word ideology, Bilawal remarked. Continuing the scathing attack, he accused Nawaz of turning the Parliament into Ittefaq foundry.

In the string of public engagements, PPP is attempting to rekindle the magic of the past. It is purposely and tactfully hitting the weak areas of the incumbent government to regain somehow political ascendance, which it enjoyed once.

Imran Khan had also ridiculed Nawaz Sharif for saying that he [Nawaz] is an ideology and remarked that his ideology is nothing but only corruption. South Punjab has been up for grabs in recent times, PTI and ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) held a string of rallies in the area. PPP also joined Imran and Nawaz to woo the voters of the Southern belt.

In the string of public engagements, PPP is attempting to rekindle the magic of the past. It is purposely and tactfully hitting the weak areas of the incumbent government to regain somehow political ascendance, which it enjoyed once.

Read more: Bilawal in KP while Imran targets PPP heartland in Sindh.

Before PPP, addressing the rally in Bahawalpur city, Imran Khan also condemned the government of helping the Indian farmers by importing their products. He praised the farmer-friendly policies of India, which provide maximum facilities to its farmers in the shape of subsidy in fertilizers and cheaper seeds and regular power bills for tube wells.

It is an unfortunate reality that poor farmers in Pakistan are marginalized in favor of capitalistic powers. Rich and powerful landlords use their political affiliations to influence legislation that benefits them. For example, they get subsidized hugely, and profit margins surge for them, but, poor farmers do not receive the equal share of water and subsidy and struggle to make ends meet.

Bilawal argued that he would ensure that his policies benefit the small farmers, unlike the corporate agriculture, which only boosts the revenues of wealthy landlords and capitalists.

High cost of input and energy crises proved fatal for farmers as they faced many constraints to improve and play a part in strengthening the export position of Pakistan. The incumbent government should formulate a sound strategy, ensuring that subsidy proliferates to poor domestic farmers, and they get the adequate education and training, to improve competitiveness. Otherwise, it is difficult to alleviate the living standards of farmers. Political rhetoric of Imran or Bilawal can only give hope, not the much needed finance and facilities to compete with India and China.


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