Incumbent upon Imran, Sharifs to respond to Bilawal’s allegations

By: Ashraf Mumtaz      Published: 02:30 PM, 5 Jun, 2021
Incumbent upon Imran, Sharifs to respond to Bilawal’s allegations
File photos.

Friday’s news conference addressed by PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari was one of his most important pressers. He dealt with a number of issues concerning the political and economic situation. 

One of them was about the alleged discrimination against the Sindhi leaders and the preferential treatment meted out to leaders belonging to Punjab. 

He substantiated his point by citing the examples of former president Asif Ali Zardari, Syed Khursheed Shah, Faryal Talpur (Sindh) and former prime minister Mian Nawaz Sharif, Shehbaz Sharif and incumbent premier Imran Khan (a Punjabi), his relatives and party men. 

An English language newspaper published from Karachi carried the story with a stinging headline: “Different laws for Raiwind, Nawabshah: Bilawal”. 

Of course, there can’t be a more shameful situation in the Islamic republic where the system of justice should be uniform, ideal.  

Bilawal, terming accountability a mere joke, said two laws prevailed in the country — one for the former prime minister from Raiwind and the other for the ex-president from Nawabshah. 

He said despite the conviction, the ex-prime minister (Nawaz Sharif) had been allowed to live abroad while former president (Asif Ali Zardari) was still residing like a prisoner despite being allowed bail on medical grounds.  

According to the PPP chairman there was one Pakistan for the leader of the opposition from Raiwind (Shehbaz Sharif who had been allowed bail by the LHC in a single day) and another for the leader of the opposition from Sukkur (Khursheed Shah) who had been running from pillar to post for over two years just to get bail. 

(Shehbaz had tried to leave the country the same day; however, he was not allowed to board the plane as his name was there on a list that disallowed him).  

Ridiculing the system of justice, Mr Bilawal said nothing happened despite allegations against Prime Minister Imran Khan and his sister. But former president Zardari’s sister Faryal Talpur had been moved from hospital to jail on the basis of allegations. 

Accusing Imran Khan of double standards, he said: “The present government is involved in political revenge and political engineering. I ask the prime minister where is accountability and justice? If the prime minister’s friends are accused, they do not go to jail; if he himself is accused, nothing happens and if his sister is accused, no action is taken.” 

While all what he said could be right, the young chairman of the country’s third largest party should not forget that his complaint/grievance concerns the judiciary, which is supposed to be an independent institution. 

Any judge who fails to do justice in a case for whatever considerations is answerable to Allah. He will be held accountable if he buckles under pressure or delivers a particular judgment to please the rulers. 

No government can/should pressurize a court to get a favourable verdict, and those mounting or accepting pressure will be doing injustice to their respective offices. 

Unfortunately, Punjab has always been reviled by smaller provinces on one pretext or the other.  

After this news conference, it is incumbent upon the Sharif family and Prime Minister Imran Khan why Bilawal’s accusations were not well-founded. They should immediately refute the discriminatory treatment impression for the satisfaction of the smaller federating units.  

At a time when the Chief Justice of Pakistan is from Karachi, if a Sindhi leader alleges that courts are having different yardsticks for Punjab and smaller provinces, it’s a matter of grave concern. The relevant authorities must take a notice of the situation and take measures to set the situation right. 

At no cost should such a negative feeling voiced by Bilawal be allowed to spread.  

And now something about the new national budget, which is expected to be announced on June 11. 

The 2021-22 budget will be presented by new Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin at a time when Prime Minister Imran Khan says the country has come out of difficult times. 

In the larger national interest, the government and the opposition should exchange views on the new budget and decide measures that could be taken to give as much relief as possible. Instead of thinking of their political interests the two sides should think of people’s interests. 

The opposition parties, instead of cursing the government for its alleged failure on all fronts, should come up with some creative ideas that could be helpful in preparing a good budget. 

Pursuing an altruistic approach, they should propose steps that could help the country lessen dependence on foreign loans, repay the previous debts, improve economy, reduce prices, and create new job opportunities. 

But it is unfortunate that the opposition parties just criticize the government for its failures and don’t come up with ideas to improve the situation.  

A few days ago leaders of the main opposition Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) presented a dismal picture of the state of economy in the country due to “failed fiscal policies” of the present government. Former finance minister Ishaq Dar stressed the need for having a “serious review” of the economic policy to bring Pakistan out of the economic ‘mess’. 

“We need a serious review [of the economic policy]. If we do not do this then we do not have a very bright future,” feared Mr Dar while speaking at a pre-budget seminar through a video link from London. 

PML-N president Shehbaz Sharif presided over the seminar, also through a video link from Lahore. 

In the seminar, a number of PML-N leaders lashed out at the government for what they called bringing the country to the verge of disaster and presented a comparison of the economic indicators in 2018 when they left the government and after the three-year rule of the PTI. 

None of the speakers came up with a single suggestion for the new budget.