Opp leaders being arrested to divert attention from budget, Bilawal says


–PPP chief says budget would not be considered legal if it is passed in absence of jailed lawmakers 


ISLAMABAD: Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari on Friday said his party’s leadership was being jailed in order to divert the attention of the people from the ‘anti-people’ budget presented in the National Assembly earlier this week.

“The government has arrested the political leaders to divert your [masses] attention from its economic terrorism…to get its anti-people budget approved from parliament,” Bilawal told a press conference at Zardari House, hours after the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) put his paternal aunt and senior party leader Faryal Talpur under house arrest.

While Bilawal’s father and former president Asif Zardari was arrested on Monday, Talpur, another prime accused in the fake bank accounts case, was taken into custody after Islamabad High Court (IHC) cancelled her bail earlier in the day.

“[Both] Asif Ali Zardari and Faryal Talpur were arrested without any conviction against them,” he claimed. “Zardari was arrested the day the government released the Economic Survey 2019, which highlighted PTI’s economic performance… the worst in history,” he added.

Bilawal said the PPP was in contact with opposition parties as well as government allies like Akhtar Mengal to oppose the 2019-20 budget in the assemblies. “This budget would not be legal if it is passed without issuing the production orders of arrested lawmakers,” he said.

Responding to a question about the ongoing case, the PPP chairman said former chief justice of Pakistan Saqib Nisar had declared him innocent and even NAB had not accused him. Yet, he added, the corruption watchdog could arrest him.

He also called for investigation into the leak of the controversial videos of NAB Chairman Justice (r) Javed Iqbal, saying it was done by the ruling party to pressurise him.

He also spoke on the ongoing case against Justice Qazi Faez Isa in the Supreme Judicial Council, and alleged that the government was hatching conspiracies to remove the honourable judges of the apex court.

“There is no difference between the government of former military ruler Pervez Musharraf and PTI… both the regimes curtailed media freedom and attempted to bring judiciary under control,” the PPP chairman said. “Democratic leaders are being arrested and incarcerated as opposed to members of banned outfits.”

The PPP leader said he wanted the government to complete its tenure, however, a future course of action would be decided in the forthcoming all parties’ conference.