LAHORE         -         Pakistan People’s Party Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has expressed concern over reports of surveillance of judges, stating that the government would have to clarify its position.

“It is direct assault on independence of judiciary. The rulers should clarify and inform the nation and the Parliament about the reality,” he said while talking to the media after luncheon reception at the residence of ex-President Women Wing Begum Belum Hasnain on Friday. PPP Punjab President Qamar Zaman Kaira, Ch Manzoor Ahmed, Azizur Rehman Chan, Hassan Murtaza and Aslam Gill were also present.

On the last day of his three-day stay in Lahore, Bilawal also chaired meeting of ticket holders and office bearers from Sahiwal Division.

“If Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani is disqualified for not writing a letter, Imran Khan can be sent home for espionage of judges,” said Bilawal. He also questioned the decision of involving intelligence agencies in crackdown against hoarding of essential commodities.

“Are they supposed to fight terrorism or control price hike and monitor crackdown against hoarders,” he said while questioning the government’s capability to investigate the issue without the help of agencies.

Referring to Federal Minister for Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhry’s letter to the Speaker on the issue of long absence of Opposition Leader Shehbaz Sharif, he said that it had nothing to with the Treasury.

“Government need not interfere as the issue is related to the Opposition,” he said, adding, if the formula was applied then the Prime Minister would need to be replaced for his absence from the Parliament for an even longer period.

Referring to miscalculation while setting tax collection target, he said that the IMF talked to its own representatives and not the government, an implicit reference to Hafeez Sheikh and Raza Baqir who were ex-employees of the lending agency.

The government accepted all terms and conditions for bail-out package, he said while lamenting that it was first indecisive on whether to go to IMF or not and then it was ill-prepared and as such could not protect national interests. He said that the PPP government in the past had never accepted conditions that could hit the masses.

He criticised the government for striking out 0.9 million beneficiaries of the Benazir Income Support Programme, stating the step was taken at a time when it was impossible for the poor to make both ends meet owing to high inflation.

While supporting documentation of economy, he said that it should be done through a process and not by using force.

“Not in the tax net doesn’t mean that the individual is a thief or robber. Harassing businessmen through conditions like producing CNIC on purchase of Rs50,000 or above will not help,” he said.