PPP comes down hard on PML-N for ‘denying’ level-playing field

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PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari is addressing the media in Lahore on Tuesday in this still taken from a video on September 19, 2023. — X/@MediaCellPPP
PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari is addressing the media in Lahore on Tuesday in this still taken from a video on September 19, 2023. — X/@MediaCellPPP
  • Bilawal says PPP’s demand for level-playing field is from PML-N. 
  • Adds level-playing field in Centre and provinces should be same.
  • Says the nation should have right to elect their representatives. 

Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari has said that their concerns regarding the level-playing field are especially with a particular political party, which is Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N).

As the time of general elections drew nearer, the rift between the former allies grew with the PPP persistently voicing concerns regarding the absence of equal opportunities to prove itself ahead of the polls.

“The demand of provision of a level-playing field is from the PML-N,” the former foreign minister said while talking to media in Lahore on Tuesday.

Bilawal contended that the principles for the acquisition of developmental funds and completion of projects are clear.

It couldn’t be that Sindh doesn’t have permission to use the developmental budget, he added.

The scion of the Bhutto family said that work on developmental schemes is underway in Punjab and Centre but the trend for the use of development funds should be constant everywhere. “The level-playing field in the Centre and all provinces should be same for development [works].”

Bilawal went on to say that everyone realised his party’s argument regarding the level-playing field. “It would have been better that the matter of level-playing field was addressed by the parties [which were part] of the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM).”

Talking about the controversy surrounding the election date, Bilawal said that only the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has the authority to announce a date.

He called upon the election regulating body to announce the election schedule immediately.

Moving on to the return of PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif, Bilawal said that the PPP has always been demanding that the former prime minister should come back.

“The PPP will welcome as the date for Nawaz Sharif’s return has been announced,” he said, adding that he hopes the three-time premier will face the cases as the PPP is willing to face its cases.

He said that the cases related to the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) are old and they have been going on for a while so they “will not affect the election in any way”.

Moreover, the former foreign minister further said that parliament’s Supreme Court (Practice and Procedure) Act 2023 case is a really important case.

Expressing his views on the current economic situation in the country, the PPP chairman said that the main problem of the people of Pakistan is inflation which has reached a record high level.

He said that no one cares who is doing what, they only need a roadmap.

“Our priority should be how to give relief to a common man in this time of high inflation,” Bilawal said, adding that the country needs a people-friendly government.

The nation should have the right to elect their representatives, he said. 

Delimitations, controversy around elections

The PML-N-led PDM government dissolved the National Assembly on August 9 while the Sindh and Balochistan assemblies were also prematurely dissolved to allow the electoral authority to hold elections in the country within 90 days instead of 60 days if the legislature completed its constitutional tenure.

If the elections are to be held within the thee 90-day limit, then the polls are due on November 9, 2023.

However, before dissolving the assemblies the coalition government in a Council of Common Interest (CCI) meeting had unanimously approved the 7th Population and Housing Census 2023.

Following CCI’s approval, the ECP on August 17 announced the schedule of new delimitations which exceeded the November 9th 90-day constitutional limit, almost making sure that the elections are likely to be held post the 90-day mark.

As per the schedule announced by the ECP:

  • September 8 to October 7 — Delimitation of the constituencies to be held across the country.
  • October 10 to November 8 — Proposals regarding constituencies to be submitted.
  • September 5 to September 7 — A quota of constituencies of the national and provincial assemblies to be allocated.
  • August 21 — Constituency committees of four provinces to be established.
  • August 31 — Administrative matters related to the constituencies to be completed.
  • November 10 to December 9 — ECP to decide on the objections to the constituencies.
  • December 14 — Final publication of the delimitation.

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