‘Youth frustrated by Imran Khan’s unfulfilled promises will vote for Bilawal’
BY RATTAN MALL
FORMER Attorney General for Pakistan Sardar Latif Khosa told The VOICE this week that even youth who were mesmerized by Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan are now frustrated because of the meltdown of the economy and the policies he has pursued. Khan had made “lofty promises” during the election campaign, but not one of them had been fulfilled.
Khosa, who was on a visit to B.C. this week pointed out that Khan as part of his election manifesto had promised 10 million jobs and 5 million houses. Instead the country was facing a recession and a trade deficit.
Now those very youth whom Khan had inspired to come out and vote for him in the last election were going to vote for Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, who at the age of 31 is Chairman of the Pakistan Peoples Party. Khosa called Bilawal “a young, talented and dynamic leader.”
Bilawal is the grandson of former Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and the son of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto. His father, Asif Ali Zardari, was President of Pakistan and co-chairperson of Pakistan People’s Party.
Khosa said: “I think he’s shaping up very well and he is very vibrant. He’s outspoken as well. He faces the international fora very eloquently. He has the command over languages; he has the vision and passion for politics just like his grandfather and the strength of character and perseverance of his mother. He is also courageous and conciliatory like his father. And I am sure he is going to shape up and People’s Party has a definite future. He has a very brilliant and very bright future ahead of him. He’s certainly the only young leader of the country because Imran Khan who claims to be 67 years, you can’t call him a young person!”
Khosa was pointing out a very interesting feature of Pakistan’s population. A 2018 report states “64 percent of the nation is younger than 30 and 29 percent of Pakistanis are between 15 and 29 (an age group which we define as the youth). Pakistan now has more young people than it has ever had, and this is forecasted to continue to increase until at least 2050.”
The Pakistan People’s Party is the governing party of the province of Sindh. Sindh has Pakistan’s second largest economy, while its provincial capital Karachi is Pakistan’s largest city and financial hub.
Khosa was on a three-day visit to attend the award ceremony of his son Dr. Faisal Khosa who is an Associate Professor of Radiology at University of British Columbia and is the winner of numerous national and international awards. The senior Khosa, who is a lawyer as well, was secretary of the Pakistan People’s Party for four years but decided not to run for election this time because of his professional commitments. However, he is still a member of the central executive committee of the party and also heads its lawyers’ forum. He is also the lawyer for Asif Ali Zardari and also represented Benazir Bhutto in her judicial matters. He was President of the High Court Bar Association three times and has been chairman of the Pakistan Bar Council. Khosa was also governor of Punjab – the largest province of Pakistan. His Khosa Law Chambers is the oldest law firm in the country and has branches all over the country.
THE VOICE asked Khosa about the massive protest that Imran Khan has been facing in recent days. Maulana Fazlur Rehman of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI-F) has been leading the “Azadi March” in Pakistan, which entered the seventh day on Wednesday, to pressure Imran Khan to resign.
Khosa said that nine Opposition parties “have united to voice their grievance because there were reservations over the electoral process that was held in which Imran Khan emerged as the victor and the Opposition had their reservations that it was not a free and fair reflection of the people’s choice.”
Nevertheless, the opposition gave the government about 15 months to deliver results, but it has consistently failed to do so. Khosa noted the irony of the current march as Imran Khan had pioneered and championed this tactic of agitation in 2014. Now Khan’s own invention has come back to haunt him.
Khosa said that the Pakistan People’s Party wants a change to take place through constitutional methods whether it’s a no-confidence motion against the Prime Minister or the government or even mid-term elections. He added that PPP remains opposed to any extraconstitutional steps for the removal of the Prime Minister.
He said the government had been “obstinately rebuffing all the demands that were being raised.” and Parliament had been “made into a rubber stamp,” because no decisions are being taken in it. The Parliamentary forums “are also being made redundant and the Opposition doesn’t have any other choice but to go on the streets.”
But he added: “I see no danger to democracy. I see no violation of the constitutional rule in the country and we stand firmly behind the Constitution. So, if Imran Khan is replaced or [not], it doesn’t matter because the state should be strong. The state institutions should be strong. Individuals come and go, so it doesn’t really matter.”
He said the opposition would like free and fair
elections and that “the new Parliament that comes into power should be the
voice of the people of Pakistan.”
He said that there would definitely be difficulties because the GDP growth had gone down from 5.8 per cent to 2.8 per cent. Prices were skyrocketing. “This year more than millions have been rendered jobless. … So I think there are horrendous challenges that the state of Pakistan will have to [tackle],” Khosa added.
However, he also stressed: “Certainly the opposition doesn’t want chaos, the opposition doesn’t want any clash, the opposition believes that the institutions should be impartial, neutral, independent, respected and strong. Maybe it does take some time. I am not foreseeing that the government is readily going to surrender. But sense should prevail on both the sides because from the opposition side we are always prepared to talk to the government.”
He advised the government not to “continue ridiculing the opposition and all their leaders” and added: “But from our side, we are in no hurry and we want the constitutional dispensation to prevail.”
ASKED if he anticipated any military intervention as had taken in the past, Khosa very confidently replied: “I do not see any reason [for it] this time because the Supreme Court had very emphatically taken a stand that no military intervention will be tolerated and you’ve seen already with General [Pervez] Musharraf facing a high treason case. We will always stand with our uniformed services, especially in the current scenario when there are many security challenges at the border.”
Khosa added: “Pakistan already has problems on the eastern side with India and Kashmir – India, unfortunately, annexed Kashmir by removing Article 370 from their Constitution. This was in total violation of international covenants and commitments made way back in the year 1948. India was committed to a plebiscite and unfortunately India has never held one – absolute obduracy on that. And the curfew imposed in Kashmir for the last 90 days – enslaved the people of Kashmir, not giving them the rights.”
Khosa felt that with Pakistan facing challenges on both its eastern and western sides, the army would remain neutral on the political front, especially with the judiciary “very firmly backing the constitutional dispensation and with General Pervez Musharraf’s fate still hanging [in the balance] and [he] being declared an absconder, a fugitive from law and justice, no one would like to have the same fate.” He added: “The army is very patriotic and committed and they are a professional force and Pakistani nation feels proud of their army. I don’t see the army interfering.”
REGARDING peace between India and Pakistan, Khosa recalled what he told a visiting delegation of lawyers from India when he was governor of Punjab many years ago: “I said we have thrown 1.5 billion people in the abysmal dismay of poverty over the tensions created between India and Pakistan. These borders have been created by human beings and not God and this bickering should end. Why can’t we really follow the rule of law?”
He added: “The rule of law necessarily demands that the United Nations resolution [on holding a plebiscite in Kashmir] should be acted upon and it would end the entire hatred and the bickering and all that we are spending on the mad race for armaments.”
With that money, both countries could be transformed into developed countries.
“These hate speeches must end. There should be interaction between the people of both countries. We believe in peace and amity and resolution of disputes through mutual dialogue and through discussions. So why can’t we sit and talk and resolve all these issues? There is a lot of goodwill between people of both the sides. Nobody wants this tension to escalate,” he asserted.
He wanted more exchanges of intellectuals, journalists, lawyers, Parliamentarians and showbiz people. He hoped that people from both countries would bring about peace and amity in this region because this was vital to their well-being.
“We don’t want our future generations again to go into the hate and be again inflicted by wars,” he said.