Bilawal demands release of all political prisoners in country

11 Oct 2020

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PPP chief Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari speaks at the KBA office on Saturday.—PPI
PPP chief Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari speaks at the KBA office on Saturday.—PPI

KARACHI: Pakistan Peoples Party chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari on Saturday demanded that the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf government release all ‘political prisoners’ and urged the lawyers’ community to support the opposition’s anti-government movement.

He was speaking to members of the Karachi Bar Association after performing ground-breaking of the Lawyers’ Club on the KBA premises.

Mr Bhutto-Zardari recalled that the lawyers always played the role of front-line soldiers to safeguard democracy and they still stand by the democratic forces.

He said that many fake cases were made against PPP co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari in the past, but the Peoples Lawyers’ Front always stood by him on each hearing.

Seeks lawyers’ support in the opposition’s drive against PTI govt

“Today, we have come out to start a movement and we again need your support,” the PPP chairman told the packed audience.

He was accompanied by Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah.

Earlier, KBA general secretary GM Korai, senior lawyers Munir A. Malik, Yasin Azad and others welcomed him.

Looming threat of arrests

“We are being threatened with arrests,” the PPP chief said but vowed that “no one can frighten us till the lawyers stand by us”.

At one point, the PPP chairman asked the lawyers to start wearing face masks since the threat of the spread of the coronavirus was still looming in the country.

He reminisced that the famous movement for the restoration of the judiciary was also launched from the Karachi Bar Association, saying the struggle was not limited to the reinstatement of the then deposed chief justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, but it was meant to ensure supremacy of the Constitution in the country.

“Undemocratic powers are stealing your rights ... we need your help” he told the lawyers. “We will return freedom of expression to the media,” he held out an assurance to media houses in the same breath.

The PPP chairman said freedom of the parliament could be achieved, adding that the peoples’ problems could not be addressed until their constitutional rights were achieved.

“Our media was (once) free and acted as the voice of the poor. But, today the media cannot show the cruelties being meted out to the poor people,” he deplored.

He said that “we are facing a historic crisis, but the media says that the economy is stable”.

He asked if the opposition was not allowed to speak out in parliament, where should they go to speak.

“We are being compelled. We will raise your problems on the streets,” he declared, adding that a historic gathering of the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) would be held on Oct 16 in Gujranwala.

‘Govt’s days are numbered’

He appealed to the legal fraternity to support the opposition’s movement from Karachi to Gilgit-Baltistan against the PTI government, saying its days had been numbered now.

“I am with the guardians of human rights,” Mr Bhutto-Zardari told the lawyers.

He said that PPP leader Khursheed Shah was in jail while Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Shahbaz Sharif had also been arrested.

He called upon the PTI government to release and set free all the ‘political prisoners’ in the country.

Commenting on Prime Minister Imran Khan’s recent address to a lawyers’ gathering, the PPP chairman said the no one told him the meaning of democracy and human rights.

“I believe there has been no such ineligible and incompetent prime minister in the history of the country,” he concluded.

KBA leaders Korai and Malik also spoke.

Published in Dawn, October 11th, 2020