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PPP lambasted govt for changing name of BISP

01 April, 2019

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Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government’s reported plan to change the name of Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP) has triggered a new controversy in the political circles, with Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) top leadership terming the move a ‘conspiracy’ by Prime Minister Imran Khan against his political rivals.

Prime Minister Imran Khan had reportedly told PTI’s coalition partners during his visit to Ghotki a day earlier that the government was in process of amending the name of the BISP, a poverty alleviation programme introduced by the PPP government in 2008 and named after slain prime minister Benazir Bhutto. The demand to change the name of the institution was made by Grand Democratic Alliance leader Makhdoom Mohsin during a meeting with the prime minister at the residence of Ali Gohar Mahar.

PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari on Sunday lambasted the PTI government over the said move and termed it a conspiracy by Prime Minister Imran Khan. “Imran Khan will first change the name and then he will close it. At the very outset, they [federal government] stopped BISP funds and now they want to change its name. He [Imran Khan] is victimizing his political opponents,” he told media after attending a tree plantation ceremony. “This government is anti-people,” he said.

“It would save a lot of time and resources if puppet governments didn’t attempt to relabel and really badly recycle the Benazir Income Support Programme,” Benazir’s daughter Bakhtawar Bhutto Zardari posted on her Twitter handle.

PPP stalwart Khursheed Shah also strongly condemned the move. “If they want to remove Benazir’s name from the card, they can. But how will they remove her name from the hearts and minds of the people of Pakistan?” he asked, while addressing a ceremony in Sukkur. “Benazir’s politics doesn’t need any card. The announcement to remove her name in Sindh is like contempt of Sindh,” he claimed. “Benazir will stay alive until democracy is working in Pakistan. These are water bubbles and will vanish soon,” he added.

Saeed Ghani said it will be a mistake to change the name of BISP through an ordinance. “The government has become bankrupt due to its acts,” he said, adding that it was parliament which named the project after Benazir Bhutto.

PPP Secretary General Nayyar Bukhari said the worst examples of political revenge are being set up in Naya Pakistan. “It will be a madness to efface the name of the first female prime minister of the country,” he added.

Adviser to Sindh Chief Minister Barrister Murtaza Wahab condemned the reported decision, saying “someone should tell the prime minister that to change the name, the law has to be changed”. He added that the prime minister should try to understand the law before making such announcements, and reminded him that he is “Pakistan’s prime minister, not [its] king”.

Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, however, explained that the demand by certain parties to change the name of the BISP were simply ‘an opinion’ and that he personally is not in favour of a change in name.

While speaking to reporters in Multan, Qureshi said certain members of the opposition in Sindh Assembly, including members of PTI, MQM-P and the GDA, had recommended that the name of the BISP be changed. He explained that they felt the programme had been ‘misused’ by the PPP and its political activists, and that they also had raised ‘objections and concerns’ to a survey that had been conducted under the BISP earlier.

However, the foreign minister said changing of the name is a legislative matter and a legal process must be followed in this case. He also described the opposition’s demand as an opinion. “People can have opinions,” he said. However, he added, he is not personally in favour of changing the programme’s name. “I think that the work, not the name, is looked at,” he remarked, adding that efforts should be made to do the work and help those the programme was launched for. He said the prime minister had said that a new survey would take place under the recently launched poverty alleviation and social benefits programme ‘Ehsas’.

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