-Demands federal govt to withdraw ordinance on islands
-Terms Presidential ordinance as an attempt to seize islands
-Criticises Centre for mistreating Sindh
-Claims Centre not giving equal rights to Sindh
From Zeeshan Mirza
KARACHI: Dubbing the Centre’s plans to materialize development projects in the now controversial twin islands off Karachi’s coastline an attack on Sindh government, Pakistan Peoples Party chairman Bilawal Bhutto criticized the alleged takeover of islands across Sindh and Balochistan.
In his press conference from Bilawal House, Karachi, accompanied with Chief Minister Sindh and other PPP leadership, Bilawal said their efforts are of the for the basic human rights of the masses.
He said the federal via a presidential ordinance overnight, attempted to seize the islands that belong to the province and fisherfolk and that if the same practice is continued, they will tomorrow take away Umar Kot and Khairpur via a presidential ordinance, too.
The PPP chair claimed that the fishermen are already angry with the government’s policies on fishing and that islands are there home which is being taken away from them. Responding to the queries on the opposition’s movement against the incumbent government, he said that using the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) the party will raise its voice.
He announced that the PDM will carry out political processions in Gujranwala and Karachi on Oct 16 and 18 respectively.
Bilawal said that government owing to its ‘grudges’ against political forces have resorted to vindictive politics. Alleging the Centre of discrimination, he said that the province was not getting its share of gas while each passing day there’s an update of hiked energy fares.
Bilawal also said that the government, with all the crises haunting the country at the moment, has pushed the masses against the wall and claimed that the present form of the parliamentary system has no stake of the masses. It may be recalled that the Centre’s plans to launch mega commercial and housing schemes on Sindh’s two islands, Bundal and Buddo, along Karachi’s coast hang in the balance as the PPP-led provincial government has withdrawn its letter handing their custody over to the federal government.
The Sindh government withdrew its July 6, 2020 letter in which the Land Utilization Department had consented to the federal government to take custody of both islands. Following the province’s consent, President Dr Arif Alvi had promulgated the Islands Development Authority Ordinance 2020 on August 30.
Meanwhile, PPP chief Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari lambasted the PTI government on Friday for its “undemocratic attitude” and for “using [state] institutions as political props”.
In a press conference in Karachi, a visibly charged Bilawal criticised Prime Minister Imran Khan for reiterating that all state institutions, including the army, stand by him.
“I believe that Imran Khan should not use institutions, especially the army, as political props. He keeps saying ‘this institution is with me, that institution is with me’ everywhere. These institutions do not belong to a political party, they are Pakistan’s institutions,” the PPP chief said. He also addressed the prime minister’s statement that the opposition did not get along with the armed forces because the latter “is aware of all their theft”. The prime minister had made these remarks in a speech delivered minutes before Bilawal’s press conference. “The army’s job is not to detect corruption,” Bilawal said in response to a question. “That is the job of NAB and our courts and other [similar] institutions.”
The PPP chief also raised questions over Prime Minister Imran’s repeated assertions that he was not involved in corrupt practices.
“If he (prime minister) is not involved in corruption, then why is there no NAB investigation on BRT Peshawar? The buses of the project, which was inaugurated by Imran Khan himself, are catching fire. Of their own accord,” he remarked. “Jahangir Tareen is enjoying in London, there is no answer on how Aleema Khan [was able to] build huge buildings by selling sewing machines.
This means you are corrupt. Transparency International said that this government is the most corrupt in history […] Buzdar government is robbing Punjab with both hands, money is changing hands on each posting. ‘Corrupt nahi hain’ (we are not corrupt), stop making these jokes,” Bilawal said sarcastically.
In response to a question, the PPP chief said that state institutions should work within their spheres. “We don’t have real democracy because a lot of our institutions, not just one, not only perform their own duties but are also assigned other jobs by the government,” he said and added: “The state is suffering and all institutions are being defamed.”
“When our Supreme Court, which is an institution towards which everyone should be looking for justice, steps up to build dams, it will become controversial,” Bilawal said, referring to former chief justice Saqib Nisar’s efforts to collect donations for the Diamer-Bhasha Dam while he was still in office.
“Similarly, in  elections, the way army personnel were deployed inside and outside polling stations something that didn’t even happen during Zia or Musharraf’s time questions will be raised whether [army] did something or not. All institutions should do their own work. It’s a good thing that such deployment is not seen for Gilgit-Baltistan elections,” said Bilawal. In response to another question about what his party’s stance would be if JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman resorted to using the “religion card”, Bilawal said: “Every political party has its own politics. We will talk about our manifesto, he will talk about his.”
PPP and JUI-F are part of the opposition alliance named Pakistan Democratic Movement. The alliance has demanded the government to step down and hold fresh elections and has announced to hold public meetings across the country to garner support.
Bilawal was visibly angry over the recent ordinance aimed at taking control of Bundal and Buddo, two islands along Karachi’s coast, which has sparked controversy and a war of words between the PTI and PPP.
Keeping parliament out of the loop, President Arif Alvi on August 31 promulgated the Pakistan Islands Development Authority (PIDA) Ordinance, 2020, to facilitate the Centre to take control of Sindh’s two islands Bundal and Buddo. The ordinance was notified the following day. Just two weeks later, Alvi discussed the fate of Bundal Island development with real estate tycoon and businessmen, including Malik Riaz, Aqeel Karim Dedhi and Arif Habib.
The Pakistan Islands Development Authority (PIDA) is being established “for the development and management of the islands in the internal waters and territorial waters of Pakistan”, but only the Bundal and Buddo Islands are mentioned as “specified areas” in the first schedule of the ordinance.
The PIDA will be directly answerable to the prime minister, who would be the patron of the authority. Besides approving the policies, the PM would give approval to all development schemes. The PPP has been vociferous in its opposition of the ordinance and has demanded that government to withdraw it. Bilawal has also vowed to challenge it in the National Assembly, Senate as well as the provincial assembly. Terming the move “unconstitutional” in his press conference today, the PPP chief said that his party will not allow anyone to “annex any piece of land in an unconstitutional manner”.