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DG ISPR should not be giving political statements: Bilawal Bhutto

30 April, 2019

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Pakistan People’s Party Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari on Monday said Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Director General Major General Asif Ghafoor should not be giving political statements.

“I think if the government has something to say, then a respective minister should come out and say it … we respect our institutions and don’t want to see them being made controversial in any way,” he told a press conference here at the Zardari House. “He [Imran] should not be making the military spokesperson give a political statement,” he said while turning Prime Minister Imran Khan into his line of fire. When asked if his party backs the PTM, he said, “Our party only supports the PPP alone. However, if other political groups stand for democracy and human rights then we back these ideas.”

The PPP chief branded the government’s accountability drive as ‘hypocritical’, saying that the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) and democracy can’t go hand in hand. “There was a prime minister – Junejo – who had said that martial law and democracy can’t go together. In the same way, NAB’s black law and our democracy can’t be run simultaneously,” he said. “You cannot have a double policy for benami accounts. Jahangir Tareen’s benami accounts are clean but the [other] mill owners are thieves if they do the same. Those who use hawala to move their funds, by branding them thieves and thugs, their businesses will cease functioning,” he added.

“You can send my entire party to jail but we will not change our principled stance on the 18th Amendment, presidential form of government, military courts, freedom of the press and democracy,” he said.

Bilawal termed the NAB a tool being used to victimise the opposition parties, saying the accountability watchdog has filed references ‘conveniently’ against certain political leaders while letting others go scot-free. PPP leader Sharjeel Memon, Bilawal said, has been languishing in jail but the charges against him are yet to be proven.

Bilawal said the government needs to review its fiscal policy, adding that it needs to learn from the tenure of his party in 2008. He said despite recession, the PPP government fought with international institutions for the sake of the people. He urged the federal government to ‘provide relief to the poor’ and instead go hard on the rich if it has to, in order to create fiscal space. He criticised the government’s performance on the economic front, alleging that it is favouring the rich and burdening the poor. “No one in the history of Pakistan took as much debt as they have taken in just few months of their government. They celebrate upon securing loans. What is there to celebrate when the poor and the common man will have to bear the burden of paying off these loans?” he asked.

“The way they are running the economy, there will be a reaction from the poor spectrum of the society. If you want to create fiscal space and burden someone then burden the rich like Jahangir Tareen. For the rich you have an amnesty scheme but for the poor you have inflation,” Bilawal said. “Ramazan is coming, where is your Ramazan package? I demand that the government review its economic policy, and provide relief to the poor wherever possible,” he added.

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