Govt arrested Khursheed Shah to divert attention from failure over Kashmir: Bilawal Bhutto

Updated September 18, 2019

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PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari addressing a press conference in Islamabad on Wednesday. — DawnNewsTV
PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari addressing a press conference in Islamabad on Wednesday. — DawnNewsTV

PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari on Wednesday accused the government of trying to sabotage unity among political parties over the Kashmir issue and said that PPP MNA Syed Khursheed Shah's arrest today was an attempt to divert attention from its failure over Kashmir.

He was speaking at a press conference following a consultative session held by the party to deliberate the next course of action in the wake of the arrest.

"If you can't lead your own nation, how can you lead a cause outside the country?" asked Bilawal, addressing Prime Minister Imran Khan.

"When in your own country, the death of democracy is being witnessed, how can you save democracy in Kashmir," he continued.

"How can [the premier] raise his voice for political prisoners in Kashmir when he is arresting politicians in his own country?" asked the PPP chairman in a rebuke to the prime minister.

The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) on Wednesday arrested Shah in a case regarding his alleged assets beyond means.

The PPP stalwart was arrested in a joint operation by NAB's Rawalpindi and Sukkur chapters, DawnNewsTV reported. He will remain in NAB Rawalpindi's custody tonight.

Bilawal, during his press conference sought to provide a pattern for the alleged practice by the government in which it makes use of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to "hide its own failures".

"We strongly condemn (Shah's) arrest, and especially right now, because it seems that whenever an opportunity presents itself to send a strong message to our Kashmiri brethren [...] the government uses NAB to break national unity, to aggravate the opposition and to divert the attention of the people."

"When the attack on Kashmir was still fresh (the August 5 presidential decree stripping it of its autonomous status), we could have used the joint parliamentary session platform to send a message of support [...] but the government arrested Maryam Nawaz."

He then spoke of senior PPP leader Faryal Talpur's arrest during Eid in Muzaffarabad where representatives from various parties had gone in a show of solidarity with Kashmiris.

"Another opportunity had presented itself [...] then too, Faryal Talpur was illegally shifted to jail at night from hospital," he added.

"And then today again we witnessed how an effort by the Senate was made to do what — in the time of a national crisis — was simply not being done," said Bilawal, referring to a discussion held on Kashmir in the presence of representatives from all political parties.

"So the Senate took a step to discuss Kashmir and then once more, right then, Shah sahib was arrested. All so that attention is diverted from [the government's] historical failure on Kashmir," said Bilawal.