Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, who is also the foreign minister, on Sunday said the time had come to take “difficult” decisions in the national interest to overcome the internal and external challenges facing the country.
“We have to take those difficult decisions through which we can take the economy out of the crises created by [Imran] Khan,” he told a political gathering in Karachi. While he did not clarify what “difficult” decisions he was referring to, it was likely in reference to an increasingly unsustainable subsidy on petroleum products that global lender International Monetary Fund has demanded the removal of to revive a suspended bailout program.
He said the government could not afford to provide short-term relief to the public while pushing them into long-term problems, adding the alternate was to tolerate short-term hardship in exchange for long-term prosperity. A solution to this crisis, he claimed, could be evolved through consensus, adding that all members of the coalition government were ready to work together to overcome the situation it had inherited from the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI)-led government.
No foreign conspiracy
Rubbishing the ousted prime minister’s repeated insistence on his ouster being instigated by a “foreign conspiracy,” the foreign minister said the “conspiracy” to table a no-confidence motion against Khan was hatched at Bilawal House and not the White House. “This is the real change and a result of our determined efforts. The selected prime minister was not ousted overnight, but through a three-year struggle,” he said, adding that his party had worked to bring all opposition parties on a single platform to achieve this.
“Initially, no one agreed with our proposal to bring a no-confidence motion,” he said, noting that all parties had agreed to an action plan that resulted in “real change.”
Referring to the PTI, he said it had failed to benefit the country despite being in power in all provinces apart from Sindh. “Now the ‘selected’ wants immediate elections so he can be selected again. We will compete with this puppet on every front,” he said.
According to the PPP chairman, Khan had done “irreparable” damage to the country in his desire to make the judiciary, Parliament, media and establishment subservient to him. “Imran expected the establishment to become part of his tiger force and back him. However, the Army and the ISI [Inter-Services Intelligence] remained neutral and loyal to the Constitution,” he said, adding that the former premier’s crises had provoked his rivals to dub him ‘Bohran’ (crisis) Khan.
He said the new government would establish relations with the U.S., China and the rest of the international community on the basis of equality. Referring to India, he said ties with it would also be on equal terms.
Admitting that Pakistan’s ties with India were strained, he recalled that the PTI chairman had only voiced concern over the actions of P.M. Narendra Modi after Delhi’s unilateral abrogation of Jammu and Kashmir’s special constitutional status. Khan used to call Modi a “role model” ahead of Indian elections prior to the shift in Kashmir’s status, he noted.
Claiming that the former prime minister’s foreign policy was on the basis of ego and stubbornness, he said this was very harmful for the country. Instead of just begging the world for aid, he claimed, the new government would focus on building up reserves through trade.
The foreign minister also discussed the prevailing water shortage in the country and stressed on the need to implementing the 1991 Accord to ensure equitable distribution of water. He urged the federal government of which the PPP is a part to help all provinces improve their irrigation systems.
Bhutto-Zardari also slammed Khan for being the first former prime minister to say that it would have been better to drop an atomic bomb on the country if he could no longer be in power. “The PPP has been threatened with either martial law or elections. Imran Khan is trying to create such conditions in the country that anarchy will be created,” he warned.