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  • Bilawal calls upon ECP to ensure fair elections are held everywhere, not just Punjab

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    PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari File Photo PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari

    PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari on Friday called on the Election Commission of Pakistan to play its role as a free, independent institution to ensure that elections all across Pakistan, not just in Punjab are held fairly.

    "If this is ensured, I am confident our Jacobabad candidate contesting for the National Assembly seat will be declared a winner the next day," he said, speaking of Ijaz Chitrani, as her addressed a press conference in Jacobabad.

    Bilawal said the government has "left the people rudderless" and the country is witnessing one of the worst hits to the economy.

    "And the reason for this is Imran Khan and his government who have drowned us in a tsunami of inflation even before entering into a deal with the IMF (International Monetary Inflation)."

    He said the country is witnessing historic unemployment as well and that Pakistan's economic growth rate has "never been so low".

    "Two finance ministers have been changed but the policy has remained the same: to bring misery to the people and relief to the rich," the PPP chairman said.

    He said that electricity and gas bills, prices of food commodities are on the rise, as are prices of petrol, which have led to everything becoming expensive and out of the reach of the common man.

    "We have seen they are handing over our government to the IMF. And the illegal ordinance brought for the State Bank, will leave it unanswerable to the Pakistan Constitution or law [...] it will only dance to the IMF's tunes.

    "And if this happens it will be a historic attack on the economic sovereignty of Pakistan," Bilawal said.

    He said his party wishes to challenge the State Bank of Pakistan amendment bill 2021. "We will not only challenge the ordinance in the parliament, but we believe it to be so illegal, we will approach the court."

    "The government is making use of every tactic with which it can impose its policies [...] now we have heard it is not only the decision to make State Bank independent, they wish to bring about other economic decisions through ordinances which will be an attack on the parliament," Bilawal said.

    He said only the National Assembly has the power to pass the money bill.

    "We will not allow Pakistan to be at the mercy of this PTI-MF government," Bilawal said, adding: "We will not allow them such a free hand that they do whatever they please at the economic level and no one challenges their actions."

    Bilawal said that the government has put the country in a precarious position with a dwindling economy on the one hand and a pandemic to conquer on the other.

    "We are wholly unprepared to combat the third wave that we are witnessing because our federal government is stubbornly refusing to procure vaccines for all Pakistanis," said the PPP chairman.

    He said Pakistan is lagging behind the most in terms of vaccinations, counting Bangladesh and India to be the countries doing better than ours.

    "Even war-torn Afghanistan has a better economic growth rate. The war-torn Afghanistan has a lower inflation rate," he said, calling it an "embarrassing truth".

    He said there is no reason for Pakistan's economy to rank behind these countries. "The only reason is that a puppet has been imposed on us who has no political, economic or historical acumen and is not capable of governing Pakistan," he said.

    In a post-media briefing question and answer session, Bilawal was asked to comment on Shaukat Tarin's remarks whereby he blamed National Accountability Bureau (NAB) for the economy's state.

    He said that PPP has had a "consistent policy" regarding the bureau, whereas other parties have changed their narrative to suit their interests over time.

    "PPP has been saying only one thing: NAB's law is a black law. It was made by a dictator. It was made for political engineering [...] to threaten people's representatives who are loyal to their parties," Bilawal said.

    He said PPP President Asif Ali Zardari had once said that "the economy and NAB cannot go hand in hand".

    "And now everyone acknowledges this."

    Speaking about the recent tensions between the PPP and the PML-N, Bilawal said that his party will soon convene a meeting to discuss the matter.

    He said many people from the party had advised him that history has shown the two parties did not get along and it will be a tough nut to crack.

    "It has been my effort, however, over the last three years, for us to work together with all parties for the benefit of democracy.

    "I will put forth the same point in the CEC meeting [...] we do not want this government to benefit out of any infighting between opposition parties," Bilawal said.

    He said that it was a "great victory" with the PDM dealing the government a defeat for the first time in the last three years.

    "And there can be no greater defeat, than the prime minister losing in his own constituency," the PPP chairman said, referring to Yousaf Raza Gillani winning the Islamabad Senate seat, with the government candidate Abdul Hafeez Shaikh losing by a margin of six votes.

    "It would have been in the interest of PDM (Pakistan Democratic Movement) and democracy to have focused more on this victory and taken it forward to give this regime a tough time, so that the people who are suffering, can see that the opposition is at least united in the view that the government has to go and a true representative of the people brought," Bilawal said.

    He wished JUI-F and PDM chief, Maulana Fazlur Rehman, as well as PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz, both of whom were reported to have taken ill, a speedy recovery.

    Bilawal said he does not wish to comment on his ties with Maryam — which he insisted are still "good" — lest some remark of his affects the situation.

    He added that he does not think Fazlur Rehman is cross with anyone, or that he would show preference to one party over the other.

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