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Bilawal Warns Centre Against Occupying Karachi

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KARACHI: Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Chairperson Bilawal Bhutto Zardari on Thursday accused the federal government of “trying to occupy” Karachi following Law Minister Farogh Naseem’s statement that the centre was contemplating a takeover of the administrative affairs of the port city through a lesser known constitutional provision.

On Wednesday, the law minister had told media persons that a committee on Karachi would shortly recommend to Prime Minister (PM) Imran Khan to invoke Article 149 to improve the affairs of the port city.

On the occasion, he said, “After the approval of the cabinet, the provision will be exercised. In case the provincial government tries to resist this move then we will approach the Supreme Court (SC) under Article 184(1) of the Constitution to seek a directive in this connection. If the provincial authorities continue resisting, we will file a contempt petition in the SC.”

Naseem had told news channels that it was his personal view that the federal government should takeover Karachi’s administration, while adding that any decision in this connection would be taken by the PM during his visit to the provincial metropolis on September 14.

Speaking at a press conference in Hyderabad, Bilawal said, “On the one hand, you are trying to build a narrative against Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi for revoking Kashmir’s special autonomy, and on the other hand you are trying to occupy Karachi. This is very strange.”

He said that PM Khan “has vowed to protect human rights in [occupied] Kashmir, but he is disregarding the rights of the people in Pakistan”.

“Do you want to run Karachi from Islamabad?” he questioned. He also said that the PPP would never accept any conspiracy against Sindh.

“According to the Constitution, the resources found in any province are first utilised by the same province before making it available to fulfill the needs of the rest of the country.” Bilawal said, pointing towards the Sindh government’s longstanding complaint that despite producing natural gas, the province was being deprived of its due share.

He also alleged that the federal government is making efforts to provide gas produced in Sindh to the rest of the country while leaving the province’s residents with the option of using expensive LNG gas imported from Qatar.

Lashing out at the federal government, the PPP chairman said, “You continue to weaken democratic powers in the country, you are oppressing its people, trampling on their human rights while also trying to occupy their land and city; do you believe that your country will survive through this?”

“The country was broken in the past when Islamabad wanted to establish control over the state…. If PPP and other like-minded parties refuse to stand up now, tomorrow two separate Sindhi and Pashtun states might be formed,” he warned.

Advising the federal government to come to its senses, Bilawal said, “The Islamic democratic system is the only thing keeping this country together.”

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