LAHORE: On Sunday, the Co-Chairperson of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Bilawal said that he would go and meet the Chaudhary Brothers of the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) at their residence to ask for their support in the Senate chairman election. 

The comment came during a media talk after Bilawal met with the Leader of Opposition in Punjab Assembly Hamza Shahbaz at his residence. The two leaders discussed the recent Senate victory of the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) and the different options the opposition alliance has in Punjab. In the succeeding media talk, the opposition leaders’ guns were turned towards Punjab, outlining the failures of the incumbent government under Chief Minister Buzdar.

Speaking on the occasion, Hamza Shahbaz said, “I thank God that after two years I am talking to you now,” referring to his 2-year long stay behind bars in a reference filed against him by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), “I congratulate PDM and Yousaf Raza Gilani on our recent victory in the Senate elections.”

“Our goal is not to simply get this government packing, but it is to control the rising inflation that this incompetent government has caused, and ease the difficulties of the people. Shahbaz Sharif served Punjab for 10 years, people who received free cancer medicines are now running from poll to poll to acquire necessary medicines but this incompetent government failed to renew relevant contracts to help the people. There are heaps of garbage all around and nothing is working,” Hamza Shahbaz said regarding the failure of the Lahore Waste Management Company (LWMC) and the breakdown of basic administrative machinery in Punjab. 

“Pakistan is seeing the lowest rates of production of cotton and sugarcane in recent history. The politics of the country had learned a lot from the Character of Democracy,” he added, recalling Benazir Bhutto’s efforts for democracy in the country. “But in the last three years the political culture has been destroyed, with the condemnable incident yesterday, and the normalization of personal insults on the floor of the parliament; this is damaging to democratic traditions.” 

Bilawal criticised the Punjab government and said that the government has used NAB to keep the leader of opposition in jail for 2 years so their lame and maimed government could survive. “The people elect the most competent people as their representatives, but when governments are selected then this is the kind of incompetence that we see. Lahore used to be the prime example in the country for good governance, now it is the example for the lack of it, we need to get rid of this Waseem Akhtar plus and get at least a half-competent CM in Punjab” he added, hinting at the fact that the PPP wants to bring down the PTI government in Punjab after the Senate upset, and before they aim for the central government. 

Regarding a question by the media on whether the PDM is willing to work with the PMLQ on in-house change in Punjab, Bilawal responded that during the premiership of Yousaf Raza Gilani the Chaudhary brothers were a coalition partner of the PPP government. “They have a vote in the Senate and for the chairman senate election I will personally go and request for their support in the Senate,” added Bilawal. 

Commenting on the recent vote of confidence in the National Assembly, Bilawal said that the President of Pakistan who is himself from the PTI thinks that the PM does not command a majority in the lower house of the Parliament. “There has also been some criticism on the number of votes reported. I was not there myself, but a member of the opposition that was present during the session claims that the number of votes was misreported on the floor of the Parliament. This is a serious issue and should be investigated.”  

Bilawal expressed that such tactics will not help the government, “We have not only proved that the people are with us and have confidence in us in the sweeping victories in the by-election, but we have also proven that the Parliament has confidence in us by defeating a sitting government within the NA,” he said. 

On a question from the media about how the PDM will ensure that the debacle of the last chairman Senate election is not repeated, where even though the opposition commanded a majority in the Senate but the government was able to elect Sadiq Sanjrani, Bilawal responded that the PDM parties have learnt from the last chairman Senate election and at that time these parties were not collected under the banner of PDM. 

Further criticising the PTI Hamza Shahbaz said that back in 2013 polls, “PTI emerged as the biggest party in KP and even though PML-N could have made a government with its allies in the province, Nawaz Sharif extended the courtesy of allowing the PTI to make a government due to democratic traditions. However, the PTI does respect such tradition as they scurried to make a government in Punjab post-2018 elections, even though the people had given the mandate to PML-N”

He further added, “Now the PDM has won all by-elections from KP, which the PTI has been governing for the last 10 years. They have kept opposition leaders behind bars for years without cause, and what is their performance? Khurshid Shah is still in jail, but where are the million jobs and houses that this government promised? The PDM needs to work for the people. He [Imran Khan] calls his governance Riyasat e Madina [State of Madina], but the carts and small setups of the working class are cleared under the name of encroachment but Bani Gala’s illegal occupation of land can be regularized in 12 lacs,” Hamza criticised, “This is Imran Khan’s Naya Pakistan [New Pakistan], which has tanked the 5.8% growth rate that Mian Nawaz Sharif left the country at.” 

Both Hamza and Bilawal emphasised that after getting rid of the PTI government, the PDM needs to serve the people and provide some relief to the masses, “Otherwise what the people are doing to the PTI right now, they will do to us. We need to serve the people,” voiced Bilawal. 


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