MALAKAND: Terrorists want to spread fear and curb our freedom, said PPP Chairperson Bilawal Bhutto Zardari while speaking to the press on Sunday in Malakand.
He said his party wants the elections to be held on time but there needs to be a level playing field for all political parties. “Terrorists don’t want us to have freedom and they want us to compromise on our freedoms,” he said.
Bilawal said he has received complaints from his party and other parties that they are being targeted and that they are not being given a level playing field. The interim government needs to take this issue seriously, he cautioned, adding that the PPP will be raising the issue in the Senate.
He announced that he will be visiting Quetta soon before going on to Islamabad and Rawalpindi. He said he will discuss these concerns and other issues in the country, such as terrorism, with party workers and leaders there.
“Free and fair elections are our right,” he stressed. He linked unfair elections to a weak parliament and said a weak parliament will make it difficult to help the people.
“In the 2013 elections we saw the damage that can be brought on our country and society [through unfair elections],” he said.
Reiterating his call for a level playing field, Bilawal said the PPP was stopped from holding events in Uch Sharif and Multan.
“From 1988 till today the PPP has fought elections and had to face playing fields that were not level,” he said. The PPP head recalled that his mother, Benazir Bhutto, had once said that “even the weakest democracy is better than a dictatorship”.
There are some freedoms, like freedom of the press and human rights, that are fundamental and should not be compromised on, he said.
Speaking about former prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s dramatic homecoming, he said, “I understand the legal grounds on which Nawaz Sharif was arrested but arresting the [PML-N] workers was not right”.
He linked these arrests to the elections and reiterated his call for a level playing field. “Controversial elections will result in a controversial parliament, which is not good for the country,” Bilawal explained.
Answering a question, he said that there has been little implementation of the National Action Plan’s 20 points. The FATA merger was passed but has not been implemented on the ground, he criticised, adding that work has not been done to curb hate speech and strengthen the civilian police.
He said that in the past five years there are many important issues that have not been raised on a national level, such as those of the people of Malakand, Balochistan and Northern Areas.
He said that he is going to raise the issue of lack of gas in Balochistan and Sindh, as well as the rest of Pakistan.
When asked about the Supreme Court’s orders regarding the Bhasha-Diamer and Mohmand damns, he said, “I don’t doubt the chief justice’s intentions. Water is a huge issue and must be focused on but I believe in the fundamental principle, which is a worldwide reality, that making dams and raising money for dams is not the judiciary’s job”.
He said that he is still waiting for justice in the cases of Benazir’s death and Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s death, much like numerous other Pakistanis await justice for their cases. “The judiciary’s priority should be providing justice,” he said. NNI