KARACHI: PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari on Saturday called upon all government allies to “quickly announce their separation from the coalition if they wish to avoid committing treason” against the country.
“Akhtar Mengal has played a positive role. Now there is no valid reason for him to stay with this government,” said Bilawal, adding: “I hope he will stick to his decision.”
Bilawal’s words come three days after Balochistan National Party-Mengal (BNP-M) leader Akhtar Mengal announced that his party was breaking its alliance with the ruling coalition.
Following the announcement, government representatives, chiefly defence minister Pervez Khattak, have been tasked with placating Mengal and bringing him back into the fold.
Yesterday, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, who is also a signatory to the agreement signed between both sides, said: “[Mengal] mentioned an agreement with us [PTI], we are still bound by it.” He said that the PTI will establish contact with Mengal to persuade him to review his decision.
‘Plain for all to see’
Meanwhile, Bilawal, in today’s media briefing, said that Prime Minister Imran Khan’s opposition to the 18th constitutional amendment and the National Finance Commission award to the provinces is now “plain for all to see”.
“He is even against the 1973 Constitution,” the PPP chairman claimed, censuring the government for “speaking against the 18th Amendment and NFC award while on a visit to Sindh”. He said that the premier “should have at least stopped to think of where he is” before speaking out against the province.
Bilawal said it was highly regrettable that the premier likened Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah to a “dictator”.
“Their true face has started to reveal itself,” the PPP chairman said.
He said that “for humanity’s sake” the premier should not have attacked the province at a time when it is important for all stakeholders to unite in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.
“The Lady Reading Hospital is run by a relative of his. They should try to compete with Jinnah Hospital,” said Bilawal.
He added that the government would be hard pressed to find even one hospital at par with the quality of the National Insititute of Cardiovascular Diseases (NICVD). He said if the government is able to point out even one that comes up to its standards, the province will surrender control of all three hospitals sought by the government – the National Institute of Cardiovascular Diseases (NICVD), Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre (JPMC) and the National Institute of Child Health (NICH).
The PPP chairman said that the province had witnessed a great economic fallout as a result of the pandemic and the upcoming budgetary allocation is a great injustice with hospitals.
He claimed that the government has announced a Rs70 billion budget but under the fine print, one will find that the amount is kept aside for a “slush fund” to be used by PTI MNAs.
“The government has cut down the budgets of the provinces and expects us to fight the outbreak on our own,” he said.
Sindh’s share of the NFC award has been slashed by some Rs230 billion.
Bilawal said the PPP government, meanwhile, has placed great emphasis on health. “We have ramped up the number of our hospitals and testing facilities on a war footing,” he said.
The PPP chairman said that government should take into account the recommendation by the WHO which calls for intermittent two-week lockdowns. “This fast crumbling wall will soon topple over. We need a serious prime minister,” Bilawal said.