ISLAMABAD: Foreign Minister of Pakistan and Chairman Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Bilawal Bhutto Zardari warned the opposition Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) that it has one last chance to “clarify whether it wants to become a political party or not.”
Addressing a joint-sitting of the Parliament on Monday, he said that the unprecedented events of May 9 including the manner in which the GHQ and Corps Commander House, Lahore were attacked including infrastructure all over the country along with public properties, are deplorable.
He said that if the PTI is a political party, then it should first condemn the arson attacks and violence — perpetrated during widespread protests following the arrest of party chairman Imran Khan — and apologise.
He said that history will always remember that when Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was martyred, a jiyala of the party from Lahore set himself on fire in protest but did not harm the state’s property.
“When Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto arrived in Lahore in 1986 post exile, the killer of the Quaid-e-Awam was alive and in the President House.
Three million people came to welcome their leader, and no political party has been able to hold such a mammoth, political gathering again in the country’s history.
Had Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto directed the people towards the killer of Quaid-e-Awam, Shaheed Shahnawaz Bhutto and the tormenter of the Mother of Democracy, Begum Nusrat Bhutto and the workers who resided in Islamabad, what would the conclusion be?” he said.
“I have shouldered the coffin of Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto for the sake of the country and its democracy,” Bilawal said. The slogans raised on that day were met with President Zardari’s pledge of “Pakistan Khappay”.
I raised the slogan “Democracy is the best revenge” after burying my mother. We could have directed the people to Musharraf, the killer of the people’s leader even then.
Had President Zardari not raised the slogan for unity, had we sought vengeance, would Pakistan have survived? Would we be sitting in this Assembly today?” “Today, Imran Khan is benefitting from the same NAB amendments that we had brought forth when in the opposition, the very same that Imran had termed “a plea for NRO”.
When in power, they would distance themselves from the NAB claiming that it is an independent institution,” he said. He said that in response to Imran Khan’s arrest, the PTI did not call for peaceful protests or political gatherings.
He said that it decided to opt for a violent response instead. “It chose to act as a terrorist organisation rather than a political party.
When Rana Sanaullah was accused of possessing kilogrammes’ worth of heroine, Justice Bandial should have opened his court in the middle of the night and demanded for Sanaullah to be presented in court in the same manner. Rana Sanaullah did not enjoy the same opportunity,” he said.
The PPP chairman said: “The response to Imran Khan barely even spending a night in jail was violence. They raised weapons against the state. This is a time when the state needs to give a united response.
It is unfortunate that while solidarity was shown with Imran Khan from the Islamabad High Court to the Supreme Court, none was shown to the Jinnah House in Lahore or the GHQ.
Instead of greeting the culprit with a “Nice to see you”, the court should have condemned militant organisation and terrorism. It should have given Imran Khan the opportunity to choose between being a terrorist organisation or a political party.
The resulting decision should have been based on his answer. They have become habitual of attacking every institution. It is the sole political party that has attacked each institution, having started with the Parliament in 2014.
It is on record that allies were manipulated by using the ISI. This demanded a suo motu notice. General Faiz and Imran Khan should have been called to the court and questioned. They only think of democracy once we are done restoring it.
If they were so adamant on taking suo-motu notices, they should have done so on the manner in which the country was run for four years, the media faced bans and the rights of the provinces were usurped.
When we brought forth the no-confidence, it was met by an abrogation of the Constitution. Neither did we take any action as the government, nor did the courts.
When Punjab is concerned, decisions are made overnight. We roamed the corridors of the court for a month to exercise our right of the no-confidence.
The facilitators of Imran Khan in different institutions then too were looking to dissolve the Assembly so that elections could be held. The conspiracy continued despite their failure on the night of the no-confidence.”
He said when we were looking for ways to aid the country’s economy on May 25th, they were trying to sabotage our deal with the IMF.
He said that the courts did nothing as the city of Islamabad was set ablaze on May 25th as the conspiracy continued. Then they stole the Punjab government through an unconstitutional decision and hoped to hold elections forcefully,” said.
“As per our principles, we are not against elections. We cannot combat them with the NAB but through elections. We have repeatedly defeated him, and we can do so now. However, we are not willing to be a part of any conspiracy.
The ones who are running a one-man show in their institutions wish for one to be run in the country overall. A party that has combatted dictators, Zia and Musharraf and their selected rule, will defeat this conspiracy and save the country’s democracy,” he said.
Bilawal said: “It is ultimately our responsibility to redirect the system and the democracy towards the correct path. All institutions should work within their constitutional domains for the betterment of the country. We believe that the court is done with its stint on the matter and now a plethora of cases are pending.
The chief justice may be able to salvage at least some of his legacy by completing the pending cases if nothing else.
If he meddles in politics and continues to give relief to Imran Khan, a practice that he has been following ever since he was a judge and facilitated Khan in the BRT project among other cases including those related to electoral rigging, then the system will not be able to function.”
Copyright Business Recorder, 2023