Talks on LFO being sabotaged: Benazir
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Chairperson Benazir Bhutto on Friday condemned the arrest of Punjab Assembly’s (PA) opposition members and party activists and said Prime Minister Zafarullah Jamali’s attempts to initiate a dialogue with the opposition on the LFO issue were being sabotaged by those interested in subverting democracy.
In a statement issued here by the PPP Media Cell, she called the arrest of the PA members ‘undemocratic and inhumane’. Ms Bhutto said the present unrest was sparked while PM Jamali was attempting to initiate a dialogue with the opposition on the LFO issue. “It is obvious that the parliamentary method of solving problems through talks is being sabotaged by those having vested interests in overthrowing democracy since 1996.”
Thirteen opposition MPAs including PA Leader of the Opposition Qasim Zia, Deputy Leader Rana Sanaullah Khan and dozens of opposition and PPPP activists including women workers were arrested on Thursday outside the PA and other nearby places.
The statement also said that after shuttling them from police station to police station, cases were registered against the 13 MPAs and dozens of PPPP activists.
Later, 17 arrested male and female party workers were shifted to jails in Multan, Bahawalpur, Mianwali and Attock to keep them away form their hometowns, the statement added. She said it was ‘barbaric’ for the people’s representatives to be “prevented from entering the assembly, beaten and having their clothes torn off” and political workers being arrested and sent to jails in various locations.
She said the arrests were an ‘eye opener’ as to the farce of civilian rule that cost the nation “billions of rupees in fraudulent elections”. She said press reports indicated that the PA speaker had not ordered the arrest of the MPAs.
Ms Bhutto said while the country had the highest unemployment rate in its history, with poverty levels rising, its elected representatives and political activists were being subjected to physical assault and violations of their fundamental human rights.
“The treatment meted out to the representatives and political activists will only increase their resolve to fight for democracy so that people of Pakistan can develop,” she added. She said freedom was important for social and economic progress as well as for human dignity.
Ms Bhutto also asked the PPPP office bearers to look after the arrested workers and extend legal assistance to them.
According to reports, Rangers Director General Maj Gen Hussain Mehdi was instrumental in the recent arrests of the people’s elected representatives, the statement said, adding his actions were contrary to army rules and regulations.
“Maj Gen Mehdi is seen as the man behind inhumane actions against the tenants of Okara Military Farms. Scores were killed and injured at the farms. He apparently formed the PPPP defectors group using strong-arm tactics. This reportedly included threatening members with heroin cases and death sentences as well as the seizure of their textile mills and other properties if they did not comply. The weak ones broke off forming a group called Parasites or NABzadas (NAB’s children),” the statement added.