London, April 19 (TNS): Chairman Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) said that the Taliban had called out the PPP and said that Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) were the Taliban’s allies and enjoyed a “free hand” and were allowed to run elections and campaigns, British media reported on Thursday.
In an interview with BBC’s Hardtalk, Bilawal said: “The terrorists had called out the PPP, and said we will not allow them [PPP] to campaign, we will attack. They kidnapped our candidates, former prime minister’s son was kidnapped, the former governor’s son was kidnapped. They also took other political party’s names, Imran Khan’s PTI, PML-N and JI. They said these are our allies, they have a free hand, they can run [elections and campaigns].”
Bilawal explained that the reason why PPP’s popularity and seats in the 2013 elections was low because of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).
“You show me how the American president or British parliament can function if they’re under threat from the terrorists, they’re not allowed to campaign while others have a free hand,” the chairman said.
When asked about the corruption allegations against co-chairman and father Asif Ali Zardari, Bilawal said that ‘umpteen’ corruption charges and cases were pending against former premier Benazir Bhutto and Zardari. “My father spent 11.5 years in jail without being convicted,” he added. At this, the show host said: “I’m sure Imran Khan would say he doesn’t tell lies,” at which Bilawal shot back, “But he does, and we know it and it is on record.”
Throughout the length of the interview, Bilawal repeatedly reiterated former president Pervez Musharraf’s involvement in Benazir’s murder. He mentioned Zardari’s appeal to the United Nations (UN) to conduct an investigation into the matter. He said the UN investigation report held Musharraf as among the prime accused in the case as well.
“We have a history of military dictators assassinating members,” he said at the mention of his grandfather’s execution and Benazir’s assassination.
When asked why ministers of the PPP government refused to record statements to the UN’s investigation team, Bilawal accepted defeat and admitted that it was a fault of the party. “However, that did not affect the outcome of the investigation, they were not consequential,” he added.
“The report and evidence directly point to my mother’s security being sabotaged,” he added.
He said that strong evidence and proof points towards Musharraf but ten years have passed without justice prevailing in the country. “Musharraf is also on trial for multiple other violations, his biggest case is of treason,” Bilawal added.
The PPP chairman said that three days after Benazir’s death, after the funeral, the central executive committee of the PPP called out Bilawal and told him to take charge of the party. “They felt I could continue my mother’s mission, they trusted me and chose me,” he told BBC‘s Zeineb Badawi.
“I didn’t choose this, but they approached me and I had no choice but to rise to the occasion,” he added. Bilawal repeated this multiple times throughout the course of the interview indicating that it was not hereditary politics that led him to be chairman, but that the occasion called for it.
“I was a freshman at the time,” he added. “Had they [Benazir and Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto] not been assassinated, he would have been prime minister, my mother would be handling the foreign office and I would have been a student still,” he added. However, Bilawal also said that he is in politics for the long run, he is not in a rush to do anything.
“Every other political party in Pakistan that runs on dynasty politics have not had their family members assassinated. But still, they have brothers and sisters running the show,” he said in a hidden jibe at the PML-N top leaders Nawaz and Shehbaz Sharif.
Bilawal also said that the ruling PML-N’s government is ‘reactionary’ and is being led by ‘behind’.
When asked about the functionality of the PPP and its hierarchy, Bilawal said that he works along well with his father and that decisions are made mutually, denying any conflict.
“Me and my father don’t dictate decisions, we have a central working body that makes party policies and rules and we implement them,” he said.