Aseefa Bhutto-Zardari, daughter of former president and Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari, has said that there are a lot of similarities between Prime Minister Imran Khan’s government and the dictatorship of General (r) Pervez Musharraf.
Evaluating the one-year performance of the incumbent Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government in an interview with the BBC Urdu Service, she noted that PM Khan “has the same cabinet ministers as Musharraf had”.
“Imran Khan has had more failures than successes. There has been a crackdown on freedom of speech, freedom of association, human rights — these are all happening under his term,” she said.
She also targeted the prime minister over his past promises. “He [Imran Khan] had promised the Pakistani people that he would create 10 million jobs. However, he has yet to create a single job. He has actually created more instability and many millions of people have been laid off due to this economic instability He promised he would make five million homes. He is yet to make one house and has [instead] destroyed millions [of homes],” she said.
“He promised that he would rather commit suicide than go asking other nations for aid; however, he is seen in every single country with the same begging bowl in his hand,” she a.
Talking about inflation, she said, “If you ask the ordinary person, the common man of the streets, they will tell you that inflation is at an all time high; unemployment is an at all time high. They will tell you that the electricity is expensive, bread is expensive and gas is expensive, the cost of living is expensive, and even death is expensive in Pakistan. This is what is happening today in Imran Khan’s Pakistan — u-turn after u-turn,” she said.”
She also compared the incumbent regime with the former government of the PPP, describing the Zardari-led party’s tenure as “better” than the current government. “If you compare this with the PPP government — despite a world recession, despite the war on terrorism, despite two natural disasters — the PPP was able to create six million jobs. It created the first social net for millions of Pakistanis from across Pakistan, the Benazir Income Support Programme.
Aseefa also criticised the PTI-led government for its Kashmir policy as well. “Personally, I think that Imran Khan’s delayed speech in the parliament lacked direction. It was a failure. The foreign minister went to Azad Jammu and Kashmir and said that we should not expect much from the international community, which is ridiculous,” she said.
“It is outrageous what is happening in Kashmir, and there needs to be international as well as national outrage. I would like to reiterate what my father said on the parliamentary floor, that had this happened under his term, the first flight he would have taken would be to the United Arab Emirates, then to China, then to Russia, then to Iran to call upon our Muslims brothers and sisters and our allies to stand by us and denounce the fascist and humanitarian crisis that is happening in Kashmir,” she added.
She also reiterated her concerns over the health of her father, Asif Ali Zardari, who is currently incarcerated for his alleged role in a massive money laundering case. She demanded that the government shift the former president to a hospital for proper medical treatment.
“I first head about the severity of the situation when a BBC article came out saying my father needed to go to a hospital and the government was reluctant to move him. I managed to come to Islamabad to meet my father, I had a court order in hand that gave me permission to meet him. However, once I arrived at the hospital, the authorities had locked all the doors. The patients were not allowed to come in or come out; citizens were not allowed to enter. I managed to enter and was waiting for my father to complete some tests,” she said.
Talking about the much-talked NRO — a plea bargain between her father and the government — she said, “The current government keeps saying that they are not interested in giving NRO, they won’t give an NRO: our response is who is asking for an NRO? My father spent 11 and a half years in jail, being tortured, and he never asked for an NRO. He does not have a single conviction against him and he will not make a deal. So I do not think my father will cut a deal anytime soon.”