PPP leader likens Shehbaz-led govt to Imran's regime

"Be it PTI or present governments, [they] want 'azadi' [freedom] from parliament," Raza Rabbani says

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Senator Raza Rabbani speaks during a joint session of Majlis-e-Shoora on February 8, 2023.— NNI
Senator Raza Rabbani speaks during a joint session of Majlis-e-Shoora on February 8, 2023.— NNI

  • Raza Rabbani takes government to task over worsening economy.
  • PTI, present govt want "azadi [freedom]" from parliament, he says.
  • He asks PM to inform parliament about terrorism, economy.

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Senator Raza Rabbani Monday likened the incumbent government to the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) regime, which the sitting rulers had vehemently opposed.

According to an official statement, the former Senate chairman — whose party is in the ruling alliance — said: "It seems be it the PTI or present governments want azadi [freedom] from Parliament and the Constitution, 1973."

The PPP is seemingly at crossheads with the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM)-led government over governance and economic issues as the country sees historic inflation and reels from the damage caused by cataclysmic floods.

The country is also witnessing its worst economic turmoil, with the rupee at an all-time low, the foreign exchange reserves plunging almost every other week, and to top it off, a new wave of terrorism has also hit Pakistan.

In light of ongoing issues, Rabbani has sought clarifications from the government as, according to him, the rulers keep avoiding parliament.

The senator also said parliament needs to be taken into confidence over the "dragging of the feet by the IMF [International Monetary Fund] on signing the agreement and reluctance of friendly countries, except China, to help sans the IMF".

"The people have a right to know if our nuclear assets are under pressure or [if] our strategic relationship with China is under threat or [are] we being called up to play role in the region which will facilitate the military presence of a[n] Imperialist power?" he said.

It appears Pakistan is being softened up to play a role which is against its national and strategic interests, the senator went on to say, without elaborating further.

"The question of the TTP and increase in terrorism has also found no discussion or briefing from the government," Rabbani said.

These and other questions, according to the former Senate chairman, require a policy statement by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on the floor of a joint sitting.

'No alliance with PDM'

PPP Co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari has also said that his party would contest the next elections on the "arrow's" symbol and not for an alliance with the PDM.

"We are not a part of the PDM, but we are their partners in government," the PPP leader said during a press conference in Vehari, ahead of the general polls in Punjab — which are scheduled to take place on April 30.

The PPP leader also ruled out talks with PTI Chairman Imran Khan and said that the former prime minister was not a politician.

In response to a question about the police's attempt to arrest the PTI chief and whether he was consulted, Zardari said: "It is the prerogative of the interior minister; why would he consult me?"

Islamabad police had raided Khan's Zaman Park residence in Lahore to apprehend him, but they returned empty-handed as the former prime minister was "not present" there.

When inquired about PPP's loss to PTI in the by-election to NA-193 (Rajanpur), the ex-president said it wasn't due to Khan's popularity, but due to the rising inflation.

Bilawal threatens to quit

PPP Chairman and Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari had also warned the centre of quitting ministries if the promises made to flood affectees in Sindh about financial assistance are not fulfilled.

“The promises to flood victims are needed to be fulfilled otherwise it will be difficult for us to hold our [federal] ministries,” Bilawal said during an event in Karachi.

Expressing his severe concerns and regret, the PPP leader said that the promises made to the flood affectees by the federal government could not be fulfilled. The flood-hit community is going through a difficult time amid rising inflation in the country, he added.

The centre, he further said, should give priority to the flood affectees. "If the federal government or Prime Minister [Shehbaz] made promises, then they need to be fulfilled.

According to the PPP chairman, the ruling party in Sindh would raise the issue in the National Assembly as well as before the prime minister. He also expressed hope that their concerns would be redressed by the federal government.