Bilawal urges MQM to quit coalition, join Sindh govt

From Zeeshan Mirza
KARACHI: Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Chairperson Bilawal Bhutto on Monday urged the MQM-P to quit the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) coalition government and join the Sindh government, “for Karachi’s sake”. The PPP leader made the offer while delivering a speech at the inauguration ceremony of multiple development projects in Karachi. In his speech, Bilawal blamed the federal government for depriving Sindh of its due rights. “We are ready to give you the same number of ministries in Sindh,” Bilawal said, addressing the MQM. He said that, “the PPP will support the toppling of PTI rule”. “The economic situation is dangerous and the PTI government is making policies that go against the [interests of] poverty-stricken people,” he said. He lambasted the PTI over the removal of over 800,000 names from the Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP), terming it a “cruel” step. It is pertinent to mention here that Dr Sania Nishtar had recently struck off the names from the list of BISP beneficiaries after finding patterns of lifestyle and expenditures that did not fit the profile of deserving beneficiaries. Talking about Karachi, Bilawal said that the city “is very important” and acknowledged that, “we need to give basic rights to the Karachiites”. He also blamed the PTI for the ongoing gas crisis in Sindh and accused it of “stealing gas”. “The gas policy of the government is unconstitutional. Sindh’s right is being taken away,” he said. Karachi Mayor Wasim Akhtar, who was present for the event, said that it was the party that would decide on Bilawal’s offer. “MQM-P has never indulged in the politics of ministries and our support for PTI is based on Karachi’s issues,” Akhtar said. “However, we [the MQM and PPP] can sit together for the resolution of Karachi’s problems.” Akhtar did, however, express his dismay at the federal government’s performance in Sindh. He said that the city’s problems were discussed with senior PTI leader Jahangir Tareen but the party did not take responsibility. PPP Chairperson Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari on Monday offered Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) ministries in Sindh in exchange for the party breaking off its alliance in the Centre with the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI). “Topple it, topple it, topple Imran’s government,” he said at a ceremony in Karachi, where he inaugurated four development projects on Monday. “We will give you equal number of ministries in Sindh. The only condition is that you send Imran home,” the PPP chairman said. MQM is one of PTI’s allies in the federal government and its MNAs Farogh Naseem and Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui hold the federal ministries for law and information technology, respectively. During his address today, Bilawal said if MQM breaks off its alliance with PTI and manages to get Sindh its share in resources, the provincial government will “stand by [MQM] for the sake of Karachi’s people”. “Today or tomorrow, all the facilitators, all the allies [of PTI] will have to take this decision, will have to save Pakistan and end Naya Pakistan,” Bilawal said. When asked about Bilawal’s comments, Karachi mayor and MQM leader Waseem Akhtar said: “Our party might sit and hold a discussion on this, what can be done in future. It’s not about me.” Karachi’s development important for all Bilawal, in his speech today, also criticised the PTI government over the decision to remove 800,000 people from the Benazir Income Support Programme, saying that it was “cruel and unjust to snatch Rs1,000 from poor women in this economic situation”. He regretted that residents of shantytowns “were being made homeless” in extreme winter and urged the mayor of Karachi to halt any anti-encroachment drive that was underway in the city so that people will not be exposed to the cold weather. He told a crowd of supporters that PPP had initiated several development projects in Karachi, which include the construction of two bridges and an underpass which, Bilawal said were “obviously very important for Karachi’s communication network” and will help in improving the city’s traffic woes. He said that Karachi’s development was important for the entire country, not just the city’s residents. “PPP government is the only government in the country that is working and we can show that,” he said but acknowledged that his party’s efforts to provide health, education and other facilities to Sindh’s people were not enough to “meet the deman