All government allies should “quickly announce their separation from the coalition if they wish to avoid committing treason” against the country, PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said Saturday.
“Akhtar Mengal has played a positive role. Now there is no valid reason for him to stay with this government,” said Bilawal, adding: “I hope he will stick to his decision.”
Bilawal’s words come three days after Balochistan National Party-Mengal (BNP-M) leader Akhtar Mengal announced that his party was breaking its alliance with the ruling coalition.
Following the announcement, government representatives, chiefly defence minister Pervez Khattak, have been tasked with placating Mengal and bringing him back into the fold.
Yesterday, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, who is also a signatory to the agreement signed between both sides, said: “[Mengal] mentioned an agreement with us [PTI], we are still bound by it.” He said that the PTI will establish contact with Mengal to persuade him to review his decision.
‘Plain for all to see’
Meanwhile, Bilawal, in today’s media briefing, said that Prime Minister Imran Khan’s opposition to the 18th constitutional amendment and the National Finance Commission award to the provinces is now “plain for all to see”.
“He is even against the 1973 Constitution,” the PPP chairman claimed, censuring the government for “speaking against the 18th Amendment and NFC award while on a visit to Sindh”. He said that the premier “should have at least stopped to think of where he is” before speaking out against the province.
Bilawal said it was highly regrettable that the premier likened Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah to a “dictator”.
“Their true face has started to reveal itself,” the PPP chairman said.
He said that “for humanity’s sake” the premier should not have attacked the province at a time when it is important for all stakeholders to unite in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.
“The Lady Reading Hospital is run by a relative of his. They should try to compete with Jinnah Hospital,” said Bilawal.
He added that the government would be hard pressed to find even one hospital at par with the quality of the National Insititute of Cardiovascular Diseases (NICVD). He said if the government is able to point out even one that comes up to its standards, the province will surrender control of all three hospitals sought by the government – the National Institute of Cardiovascular Diseases (NICVD), Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre (JPMC) and the National Institute of Child Health (NICH).
The PPP chairman said that the province had witnessed a great economic fallout as a result of the pandemic and the upcoming budgetary allocation is a great injustice with hospitals.
He claimed that the government has announced a Rs70 billion budget but under the fine print, one will find that the amount is kept aside for a “slush fund” to be used by PTI MNAs.
“The government has cut down the budgets of the provinces and expects us to fight the outbreak on our own,” he said.
Sindh’s share of the NFC award has been slashed by some Rs230 billion.
Bilawal said the PPP government, meanwhile, has placed great emphasis on health. “We have ramped up the number of our hospitals and testing facilities on a war footing,” he said.
The PPP chairman said that government should take into account the recommendation by the WHO which calls for intermittent two-week lockdowns.
“This fast crumbling wall will soon topple over. We need a serious prime minister,” Bilawal said.
Bilawal spreading hatred, misleading people: Haleem Adil
Responding to Bilawal’s briefing, PTI Vice President and parliamentary party leader in Sindh Assembly, Haleem Adil Sheikh, said Bilawal was misleading people and spreading hatred against the Federation.
He said the press conference of Bilawal Zardari was “nothing but a pack of lies and allegations against the Federation”, according to a PTI statement.
He said Bilawal should have thought twice before terming the premier’s visit to Larkana “a political visit”.
He said the visits were aimed at giving Rs60 billion to five million needy people under the Ehsaas Cash Emergency Programme.
He said Rs2.2billion were being given to 115,000 people in Larkana alone.
Adil said that meanwhile the PPP government had given the people of Larkana “a gift of AIDS and dog bites”. He claimed the provincial government has even failed to supply dog bite vaccines to government hospitals.
He claimed that no healthcare or education facilities were given to the people there and Bilawal “is now talking about the NFC and PFC awards”.
The PTI leader said the Karachi hospitals were handed over on the order of the Supreme Court of Pakistan and Bilawal was only spreading hatred by terming it an ”attack” on Sindh.
He said PPP government was not able to run even Taluka level hospitals that are now given to NGOs, and Bilawal should tell us “how his inept government would run these big hospitals”.
Talking about a letter by the Sindh government about refusing to hand over the three hospitals, Adil said that provincial health minister demands to pay back expenditure of 10 years on these hospitals.
He appealed to the prime minister to order a forensic audit of the expenditures of these 10 years.
Adil also said that the Centre was running these hospitals before the 18th Amendment.
He accused the Sindh government of corruption of billions of rupees in the three hospitals.