Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry on Saturday said PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari and his long march would be welcomed and served refreshments in Rawalpindi, but it would be better if it arrived after the ongoing Test match between Pakistan and Australia being played at the Rawalpindi Stadium.

The PPP’s long march is underway and is poised to reach Islamabad on March 8. The first cricket Test of the Australian team’s historic tour would continue till March 8 as well.

Addressing a press conference in Lahore with Education Minister Shafqat Mahmood, he said: “We will welcome Bilawal Bhutto’s long march in Rawalpindi. We only want that he reaches after the match [with Australia] since [Australian] cricket has arrived in Pakistan after 24 years and we don’t want to give a signa that [negatively] affects cricket in Pakistan.”

Taking a jibe at the opposition party, he said even if the PPP march managed to come to Rawalpindi during the Test match, “a cabin would suffice for the few people” with Bilawal and refreshments would be served to the “60 to 100 people with you”.

The information minister also quipped that Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) chief Maulana Fazal-ur-Rehman was looking dejected after his announced 48-hour period had lapsed without any advancement on the planned no-confidence motion against the government.

“I think the no-confidence [motion] is a child of theirs [joint opposition’s] who has been lost in the streets somewhere. So, let’s see now how much time they take in searching for that child.”

Chaudhry said the government was standing strong under the prime minister’s leadership and its allies had reassured it of their support.

Meanwhile, the education minister hit out at PPP co-chairperson Asif Ali Zardari and PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif, alleging they had set up a “horse-trading market” and were justifying it instead of feeling ashamed about it.

He also said there were rumours in the media that foreign forces were behind the unity in the opposition ranks and said it was a condemnable development if true since foreign powers should have no involvement in the country’s internal affairs.

PESHAWAR ATTACK: The information minister also addressed Friday’s attack on a Shia mosque in Peshawar and said considerable headway had been made into the investigation. He hoped that the culprits would be reached in the next 48 hours or less.

Chaudhry said that while he wasn’t making any accusations since the investigation was still ongoing, “such events occur whenever international cricket is played in the country.”

“You saw that message came from India to the Australian cricket team that they should go back. Yesterday, every tweet generated from India on the Peshawar incident had tagged the Australian cricket board.”

He said the Indian government had made its people “hostage”. “We do not want such schemes to be used and we are ready to talk on peace and move forward,” Chaudhry added.

On other international topics, he rubbished the notion that relations with the West were deteriorating, saying that the prime minister would soon embark on a Europe tour and Pakistan believed in a balanced policy on the Russia-Ukraine conflict.

He said Pakistan’s foreign policy was “100 per cent” being formulated inside the country and reflected the common man’s thinking.


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