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Imran himself gave NRO to send Nawaz abroad: Bilawal.

Byline: Amjad MahmoodUpdated

LAHORE -- Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari said on Tuesday that Prime Minister Imran Khan himself had given an NRO to Nawaz Sharif by sending him abroad.

'The government's narrative is contradictory as Imran Khan himself had given NRO to send Nawaz Sharif abroad for treatment and now he must not tell a lie to the nation on the issue. If Nawaz was a criminal, why did the government let him go abroad?' he asked.

He was responding to a media query about Islamabad's letter to London for bringing back the former prime minister. 'Imran has no interest in fighting corruption. What he desires is just maintaining his rule as a puppet.'

Talking to the media after meeting a delegation of civil society representatives at the residence of Dr Khalid Javed Jan, the PPP chairman said the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf government had squeezed space for civil society, regretting the prime minister had lost the chance to draw strength through engagement with civil society.

PPP chairman regrets PTI government has squeezed space for civil society

He said the role of civil society during dictatorships as well as democratic set-ups had been crucial in checking undemocratic steps but, regrettably, the present government had shrunk the space for them. The regulatory framework prepared overnight for local and international NGOs shut the doors of financial aid coming through these organisations, he added.

He said the approach of controlling each and every thing in the country as a display of one's power had caused much damage to the country because it robbed the state of a healthy constructive criticism. Advocating for not taking criticism as treason and sedition, he said the PPP would try to change the paradigm and reconnect with civil society for better outcomes of pro-people policies.

Answering a question about Ali Wazir's statement in which the Pushtun Tahaffuz Movement MNA allegedly urged the United States to bomb certain Pakistani cities, Mr Bhutto-Zardari said he condemned if any such a statement had been made, recalling that such statements had been made in the past calling for strikes at safe havens of terrorists. He said his party too wanted action against havens of terrorists whether in Rawalpindi or the erstwhile Federally Administered Tribal Areas but by the state and not foreign countries.

In reply to a question, he said he was not speaking against Nawaz Sharif because the latter was not in power and his criticism would be of no value, while the public interest demanded that with the help of allied parties the incumbent government should be criticised for its 'anti-masses' policies. He recalled that the PPP had been criticising Mr Sharif for failing to give time to parliament and other flawed policies.

Replying to a question, Mr Bhutto-Zardari said the PPP during its term in power had sought an IMF package against the backdrop of global financial recession. But, he added, Imran Khan had been talking of committing suicide instead of going to the International Monetary Fund and clarified that he was not demanding the prime minister to commit suicide as per his claim but renegotiate with the IMF to get 'anti-masses' terms abolished.

About his reservations over the US-Taliban agreement, he asked who represented the Afghan people in the talks - Trump or Taliban. He said peace could be expected from an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned dialogue and not US-led talks. The Afghan agreement, he added, should be for establishing peace in the war-torn country and not for win of Donald Trump in the US elections.

The PPP chairman did not rule out the possibility of accepting back the defectors who had left the party in lurch. '[Party] workers are emotional on the issue and won't accept defectors' return. [But] we'll have to see the issue on a case to case basis,' he said, stressing that he would take along all those elements that were ready to support the PPP in its struggle for resolving issues of the masses.

When asked about Asif Ali Zardari's health, he said the former president was being treated in Karachi and he would soon rejoin politics after full recovery.
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Author:Amjad MahmoodUpdated
Publication:Dawn (Karachi, Pakistan)
Geographic Code:9PAKI
Date:Mar 4, 2020
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