KARACHI - As the Centre mulls various legal and constitutional options for Karachi, Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari has said that the federal government is trying to “occupy” the port city to make it its “colony”.

Addressing a Press conference in Karachi on Thursday, he said that such a move would be unconstitutional and if it is given some cover from a court then the decision would be similar to that of the Supreme Court’s verdict against his grandfather former Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, who was hanged on April 4, 1979, after an apex court verdict.

“At a time when Pakistan is going through so many issues, our economy is getting into even deeper trouble with every passing day, the life of a common citizen has gone bad to worse, even the economy of the world is facing huge issues, such a step is being considered,,” he said while criticising the timing of the consideration.

Bilawal said that a consensus must be reached before any drastic step is taken and if it is not done in this manner then even bigger problems would arise. He said that Karachi is not only important for Sindh but for the entire country. “it is our financial hub. If it is not secured than it would be a loss for everyone.”

The PPP leader said that when the co-founder of Microsoft talks about the success story of Karachi with regards to coronavirus, the federal government attempts to take all the credit for the reduction of cases.

“The people of this province sacrificed a lot because of coronavirus. Karachi is the most densely populated city of Pakistan and people sacrificed their livelihoods to protect people of other provinces who live in this city because there was fear that coronavirus would rapidly spread.”

Replying to a question regarding the recent rain devastation in the port city, Bilawal said that Sindh has witnessed historic monsoon rains this year which had not been seen in the past 10 years. “If there is a problem at any house in Karachi, it is equally painful for me when I see a house turned into rubble in Juhi or in Qambar Shahdadkot or in Thatta.” He slammed the federal government for its late decision to call the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA). However, he also welcomed the move.

“There should be no politics during natural disasters but we saw bad intentions of the federal government even during such a situation.” ‘No province being given due share in NFC’

The PPP chairman claimed that no province is being given its due share in the National Finance Commission (NFC) award. “Last year, we were given Rs 116 billion less amount. This year, Sindh was given over 200 billion less from its due share. This is being done to every province repeatedly.” 

He said that if the pre-18th amendment formula for NFC was being followed then it must also be noted that after the amendment the provinces now have much more responsibilities and added that the provinces must be given more share so the governments can make the lives of their citizens better.

“During global disasters and pandemics, nations become united and additional resources are given but unfortunately when we are going through coronavirus pandemic, the federal government is trying to snatch their [provinces] resources.”

Talking about the passing of FATF-related bills recently, he said that if the government wants to make any bill non-controversial then the domain of Senate must also be respected so that we all can play our part to prevent Pakistan from getting blacklisted.

He said that the PPP workers in Peshawar have told him that the PTI government has only completed six kilometres of BRT in the city, the rest of 26 kilometres still remain. He claimed that kickbacks worth billions of rupees were taken during the project.

“The FIA and NAB must investigate the project. The truth must be brought before the people of Pakistan and all culprits must be arrested. NAB must remain impartial. Let’s see if the laws apply the same for everyone.”

Replying to a question regarding the resumption of National Accountability Bureau’s (NAB) proceeding on August 17, he said that the PPP workers demand that they want to go by road with PPP co-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari to show solidarity.