Benazir’s sixth death anniversary: Bilawal throws down gauntlet to Taliban

Bilawal addresses supporters in Garhi Khuda Bakhsh on the death anniversary of Benazir Bhutto. PHOTO: NUDERO HOUSE

Bilawal addresses supporters in Garhi Khuda Bakhsh on the death anniversary of Benazir Bhutto. PHOTO: NUDERO HOUSE

GARHI KHUDA BAKHSH: Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said on Friday that there was no recourse except to battle terrorism in the country as he opened a new front against political adversaries like Imran Khan whom he accused of backing militants.

“The only way to save Pakistan is to battle terrorism … and the only party standing against terrorism is the PPP (Pakistan People’s Party),” PPP leader Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said on Friday.

He also announced that “Benazir’s children will enter politics before the 2018 general elections”.

At the sixth death anniversary of his slain mother, Benazir Bhutto, in Garhi Khuda Bakhsh on Friday, people expected something grander from Bilawal as he had turned 25. They were hoping, for example, that the party’s central executive committee would name him party chairman or that he would announce his decision to contest the by-elections and by virtue of that qualify for a parliament seat. But the young Bilawal wasn’t quite done with the verbal jabs against his foes – which have been seen and heard before. The insults came thick and fast, as he pummelled rival parties and opponents with his arsenal of political jibes, some even low blows.

His remarks against the Taliban were full of sound and fury. He was unforgiving in his criticism of their policies and thundered against them like never before. For the better part, it seemed more of an attempt to please his Western audience than address the concerns of the Pakistani electorate.

He rejected all possibilities of talks with the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and called them inhuman and savage. “How can we talk to those who shed the nation’s blood?”

They were killing innocent men, women and children without reason, he said, adding, they are attacking mosques without considering that copies of the Holy Quran are reduced to ashes when they strike with bomb blasts and arson attacks. TTP must accept the Constitution of Pakistan and lay down their arms, he said.

“They killed my mother and attacked the innocent schoolgirl, Malala [Yousafzai]. The Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said to do whatever you can to seek knowledge, even if you have to travel to China. Then how do these men call themselves Muslims?” Terrorists are not Muslims, but are “kaafir” (non-believers), he claimed.

The Taliban were the creation of military dictator Ziaul Haq whose own protégé Nawaz Sharif is the incumbent prime minister, Bilawal said.

Switching his attention to the premier, he said the owner of the tiger [election symbol] wanted to be called khalifa like Mullah Umar. “But now the tiger has to prove that it has changed its stripes and wants to do something for the people.”

He offered to resolve differences with the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) if Nawaz Sharif takes on the Taliban and the extremists. He urged the party to “stop providing shelter to the Taliban in Punjab”. If so, he promised to laud the tiger and sing his praises; if not, then he would chant, “dehshatgardon ka jo yar hai, ghadaar hai, ghadaar hai (the friend of terrorists is a traitor)”.

He didn’t spare Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf either. Maintaining the premise of his speech, he berated PTI chief Imran Khan for blocking the Nato supply lines after the killing of TTP chief Hakimullah Mehsud. Terrorism is not taking place because of drone strikes, he said, while chiding Imran. In an attempt to ridicule the party, he said “A tsunami cannot be brought by pouring water into four lotas.”

Condemning the terrorist activities in the country, he announced to start a jihad against these elements and vowed that he will emerge victorious.

Questioning the credibility of the 2013 general elections, he claimed that the polls were rigged on a massive scale to keep the PPP out of the arena. Bilawal did not hesitate as he played the provincial card and condemned the “Punjab-based establishment” for conducting the rigging.

Zardari keeps it brief

Speaking briefly, former president and co-chairman of the party, Asif Ali Zardari, said he only accepted the results of the general elections to ensure a democratic transitionwas made. He “prayed for the present government to not only complete its term but also raise the foreign reserves to $100 billion.” Alluding to Pervez Musharraf, he said the former military ruler is now facing cases and he would pay the price. “A ‘billa’ has been trapped today and he should not be freed,” he said.

Source: The Express Tribune

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