Islamabad/SHIKARPUR - Reacting over reports that government was going to change name of the Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP), PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said yesterday it was a ‘conspiracy’ to end the social safety net programme

Prime Minister Imran Khan, during a meeting with members of the Grand Democratic Alliance in Ghotki on Saturday, was quoted as suggesting that name of the BISP would be changed.

Talking to media after inaugurating a tree plantation campaign and a park at Bhiman Forest plot next to Madeji Town of Shikarpur district here, he expressed his concern over changing the name of BISP and said, “At first federal government stopped paying installments of the programme and now it is going to change its name.

“They are anti-people and anti-poor individuals,” he said, without naming anyone.

Bilawal said it was a ‘long-term conspiracy’ under which name of the programme would first be changed, followed by decreasing allocation for it, and eventually the programme would be ended.

He said, “They think that money is being wasted through the BISP, but I consider it the best programme in the country.”

“The federation is giving Sindh a step-motherly treatment by stopping payments to the province due to which it is facing many problems. The Sindh is being deprived of its due share of water and people are suffering due to scarcity of water.”

Bilawal said growers were waiting for water for their crops. He also directed authorities concerned to take stern action against those found involved in stealing water adding that no one would be allowed to occupy land of the forest. He directed provincial minister Syed Nasir Ali Shah to provide list of people who had occupied land of the forest.

To a question about his train journey, he said, “I received a lot of respect and great response from people of the Sindh at all railway stations and reached Larkana. I took decision to undertake train journey because there was an issue of air travel in Sukkur.” He, however, once again said it was not a train march.

Bilawal said in response to his train journey Prime Minister Imran Khan had to arrange a gathering at Ghotki.

Syed Nasir Shah, Sohail Anwar Sial, Sardar Khan Chandio, elected MPAs, and other high level officers and officials were also accompanied by him during his brief visit to Shikarpur.

Strict security measures had been taken by law enforcement agencies during his visit.

Separately, slamming PM Imran’s suggestion, PPP veteran Khursheed Shah said Shaheed Benazir Bhutto made sacrifices not just for the party but for the entire country.

“Imran Khan wants to remove the former premier’s name from BISP, which is shameful,” Shah told media in Sukkur yesterday.

“There is fear that what if these ‘Naya Pakistan’ people [also] remove Quaid-e-Azam’s image from the currency [notes],” the PPP leader remarked.

BISP was launched in 2008 by then-prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani on the advice of former president Asif Ali Zardari. The programme’s name is a tribute to former premier Benazir Bhutto, who was assassinated in 2007.

Several other PPP leaders also vowed to resist any move to rename the programme.

Adviser to Sindh chief minister, Barrister Murtaza Wahab, said the BISP could not be renamed unless the law is changed. “Kaptaan you are the PM not the King, plz try to understand law before making commitments,” he tweeted.

Bakhtawar Bhutto Zardari responded to Wahab’s tweet saying, “What else does one expect from Puppet Khan and his grand alliance of delusion?”

“It would save a lot of time & resources if puppet governments didn’t attempt to re label & really badly recycle the Benazir Income Support Programme & instead just accepted its glory (credit @AAliZardari) & continue to fund it. #HealthCardsAlreadyExist #GoatToBeKiddingMe #PTI,” she wrote in a tweet earlier.

Senator Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar, the spokesperson of Chairman PPP Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, said that Benazir Bhutto always condemned and resisted terrorism which was why the BISP was being targeted by the rulers.

In a statement, he said the government could not tolerate name of Benazir Bhutto and the poor of this country.

Khokhar claimed that the 18th Amendment was also troubling the PTI government and the PM had come out in open against the 18th Amendment.

He mentioned that federation was not affected by the 18th Amendment for the last 10 years and questioned how could it harm the federation now.

He said government was the reason behind the prevailing economic crisis in the country.

Senator Khokhar added that increase in cost of dollar, petrol, power and gas was all due to Imran Khan and his anti-people policies.