KARACHI: The PPP warned the federal government that it will resist any move to sack 9,500 employees of the Pakistan Steel Mills (PSM), a few days after the Centre decided to sack workers of the mill and privatise it.
“Not only will the PPP condemn any attempt to sack the 9,500 steel mills workers but we will practically stand with them to oppose this move,” said Sindh Education Minister Saeed Ghani during a press conference.
“We will resist this. We will stand with these workers and neither will we leave them helpless nor will we let them be fired,” he added.
The PPP leader categorically rejected allegations that the party was guilty of ensuring its own workers were hired in the PSM. “This perception is totally wrong,” he said. “I can say this with absolute surety that the PPP, from 2008-2013, did not have one person hired in the steel mills,” noted Ghani.
“However, there was this one thing that we did. And we did not do this with the steel mills alone but with various other institutions. The PPP government regularised workers that were on contract, which is according to the Constitution,” he added.
Ghani said that these were workers who had been appointed in the steel mills from 1996-2008, when the party was not in power. “These were not PPP’s appointees. To say that they were hired by the party is wrong,” he said. “It would have been easier for us to dismiss those people, create vacancies and then hire our own people. We did not do that.”
Ghani said that the Government of Sindh was the owner of the land on which the PSM was built. The PPP leader noted that the total land acquired by the steel mills was 19,000 acres.
“The Government of Sindh is the true owner of this land,” he said. “If the federal government takes any decision without the CCI’s approval or without taking Sindh government into confidence, we will not let it happen and we will resist it,” he stressed.
Ghani calls upon MQM, GDA to resist move to sack Steel Mills employees
The Sindh education minister said that he hoped the MQM-P and the GDA would resist the Centre’s move to privatise the steel mills and stand up to the federal government.
He said that though the MQM-P had voiced its reservations over the matter, it was time to practically oppose the movement. The PPP leader said that though he did not expect the GDA to resist the Centre, he called upon the alliance to stand up to the government’s move to sack steel mills workers.
“I hope the two MQM-P ministers part of the federal cabinet will play their role in opposing this move and condemn it,” he said. “[I hope] they will practically oppose this. Condemn this. Disagree with this and send a dissenting note to the cabinet. Then we will appreciate the MQM-P,” he added.
‘A woman is being used to divert attention from important issues’
During his press conference, Ghani touched upon the explosive allegations made by US blogger and documentary-maker Cynthia D Ritchie, who had accused former interior minister Rehman Malik of rape and former prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani of ‘manhandling’ her several years ago.
“I would urge all the media channels of Pakistan, that an issue is being created to malign the political leadership of Pakistan,” he said. “You can put it in writing. If we create pomp and show about it, then today it is the PPP, tomorrow it will be another party and then so on. Maybe, those who are blowing trumpets about it, they can also [fall victim to it].”
He warned the federal government by saying that people were aware of the ‘activities’ of those who were in power. “If they [federal government ministers] think they can be happy over false allegations regarding others, then they will have to face true allegations against themselves. Then, they will not be able to rid themselves of it,” added Ghani.
In response to a question, he angrily said that Cynthia had not revealed any confidential information about the PPP. “We have forgotten about the locusts, we have forgotten about the coronavirus, we have forgotten about poverty, we have forgotten about unemployment, we have forgotten about the economy. We are running the baseless and false allegations of a woman in our headlines,” said Ghani.
In response to another question, the PPP leader said that Cynthia’s allegations were a “pre-planned strategy to malign Pakistan’s political leadership”. He said that the allegations were being posed by a woman whose her character was dubious.
“At times, she is in Israel, at times in India. In one place one day and another at another day. It will all be revealed to you soon. A foreigner comes here and tries to be more patriotic than you and me. How can it be?” he asked.