Bilawal asks govt to take parliament on board on Taliban takeover of Afghanistan

Published August 18, 2021
PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari speaks at the press conference at Bilawal House on Tuesday.—PPI
PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari speaks at the press conference at Bilawal House on Tuesday.—PPI

KARACHI: While showing concerns over the developing situation in Afghanistan, the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) on Tuesday came up with a cautious response to the recent situation after the Taliban takeover and demanded that the government take parliament on board before any decision regarding the new regime in the neighbouring country, warning that it would not accept any compromise on Pakistan’s stance on terrorism and “appeasement for terrorists”.

Just a day after the party’s central executive committee meeting, PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari came up with details of the discussion held under his chairmanship where the leaders including two former prime ministers — Yousuf Raza Gillani and Raja Pervez Ashraf — gave their inputs, suggestions and helped devise the formal stance of the past ruling party in the centre.

“We demand the government to take parliament on board [before making a formal decision],” he said while speaking at a press conference at CM House. “It’s time to engage parliament over our foreign policy. We also expect that the number of resolutions which were passed by parliament should guide us to devise the strategy. So, we also demand the government that resolutions on our policy should be followed at this crucial hour.”

‘Murad Ali Shah is the only man for the chief minister’

He said his party discussed in length the issues that emerged after the developments in Afghanistan, which were directly linked with Pakistan’s “safety, security and stability”. He wanted the state to move forward with all due care and deliberations.

“Things are unfolding and we are watching it closely,” said Mr Bhutto-Zardari. “But what we demand [the Pakistan government] right now that there should be no compromise on our policies against terrorism. There should be no appeasement for terrorists. The national action plan must be implemented with true spirits. We can’t allow any incident here in our country after all such happenings [in Afghanistan.]”

The PPP chairman came up with a soft and reconciliatory stance for those who were in conflict with the state mainly in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan and wanted them to be heard for peaceful solutions in the two provinces. At the same time, he called for a strong action against militant organisations which had attacked the people and interests of Pakistan.

“TTP [Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan] and other terror organisations need to get a clear message that no such activity would be tolerated here in our country,” he said. “If anyone tries to defy this rule, it would attract strong reaction from our side. We have recently witnessed such activities in Dasu, Quetta and Karachi, so we need to prepare ourselves. Hope is a good thing, but hope is not a plan. We should remain hopeful but must prepare ourselves to meet any challenge.”

He said Pakistan could not afford to have any “confusion on terrorism” and required clarity on “political thought and policy” in the wake of the developing situation in Afghanistan. He said Pakistan Army was aware of dangers posed by the proscribed TTP and other terror outfits.

“If the government doesn’t have legitimacy and clarity then that confusion will affect the entire state,” said the PPP chairman and accused the prime minister of having a tendency to “appease terrorists” that targeted soldiers and police officers in the country.

“When your prime minister stands on the floor of the National Assembly and is ready to call terrorists martyrs then it is very sad [and] not something to celebrate. We want implementation of the National Action Plan, with no compromise from the government on terrorism and no appeasement for terrorists,” he added.

Murad to stay

While mainly focusing on international and regional affairs, he also touched upon a very domestic issue when he was asked about any possible change of guard in his party’s Sindh government.

“I don’t know why such a question arises when I have already made it clear several times,” he replied to a question about possible change of the Sindh chief minister. “I have always made it clear. Murad Ali Shah is the only man for the chief minister. Once I was asked the same question and I replied that I have three names for the chief minister and that’s Murad Ali Shah, Murad Ali Shah and Murad Ali Shah.”

Published in Dawn, August 18th, 2021

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