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Bilawal opposes ban on any political party, but says PTI crossed ‘red line’

PPP chairman says law will take its course if poltical party wants to become ‘militant organisation’
Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari during the Senate Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs on May 25, 2023. Photo via Twitter/@BBhuttoZardari
Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari during the Senate Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs on May 25, 2023. Photo via Twitter/@BBhuttoZardari

PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has reiterated that he opposes moves to ban any political party. But he stressed that a political party should have the desire to remain a political party.

“As far as the question regarding restrictions on parties is concerned, in principle no political party should be banned,” he told reporters outside his chamber in the Parliament House, Islamabad on Thursday. “I oppose it, but the political party must also have the desire to remain a political party.”

He was responding to a query pertaining to a possible ban on the PTI. The ruling alliance was mulling banning the Imran Khan-led party over violent protests of May 9 following the former prime minister’s arrest.

Footage shows that the mob clashed with police in various cities, damaged state properties, and attacked state buildings: the General Headquarters in Rawalpindi and the Lahore Corps commander’s residence.

“If that political party itself wants to become a militant organisation and is not ready to distance itself from the May 9 incidents [so] whatever I want is irrelevant then the law will have to take its course,” said Bilawal.

“If that political party itself wants to become a militant organisation and is not ready to distance itself from the May 9 incidents [so] whatever I want is irrelevant then the law will have to take its course,” said Bilawal.

When asked if the PPP chairman considers PTI a political party, Bilawal said that PTI has the potential to become a political party. “I think that the action of May 9 should have never happened. Till today, the focus is on the Corps Commander and GHQ regarding these attacks. When the details will come before our nation that how coordinated attacks on our military installations were carried out, I think no Pakistani can do that. Every Pakistani will want that law should take its course and we should not allow this precedent to become a precedent.”

Bilawal, who is the foreign minister, went on to add that political parties do politics in Parliament. “Political parties do not use stones, sticks, and guns against the state.”

“I understand now that I have no place, PPP has no place, no way, that I can in any way dilute the action of the 9th of May. He [Khan] has crossed all red lines,” says Bilawal

‘Automatic reaction to Army Act’

To a query on opposition to the Army Act, he said that whenever people hear about the military court, there was an automatic reaction. He went on to add that there was a “misunderstanding” in the world, in the country and in the media, that maybe they want to do against the “terrorists” of May 9, the way military courts were established in Pakistan by amending the Constitution in the past.

“We do not want to establish a new military court, neither we are bringing any new amendment in the constitution, nor we are seeking to bring any amendment in the law of Pakistan. On the book, on the law there is an Official Secrets Act and there’s an Army Act,” he said, adding that if any law has been violated then the law must take its course.

When asked if it were constitutional courts, Bilawal said as per the Constitution without any amendment.

“You will remember that after the APS tragedy, an amendment was done for a time period. That term has expired. The Pakistan Peoples Party can never support any undemocratic and unconstitutional behaviour rather we will oppose it. As far as the existing law and Constitution are concerned, it is violated whether it is the Army Act, whether it is the Official Secret Act, and Whether it is an Anti-Terrorism Act. They don’t need my permission. Every man can lodge an FIR and no one can stop anyone.”

“Khan has never taken any political decision or democratic decision in his life and sabotaged his own decision and sabotaged the rivals’ decisions too.”

Charter of democracy

Bilawal was of the view that Khan should be aware of the need when a reporter reminded the PPP chairman of the charter of democracy agreement signed by the Sindh-ruling party and the PML-N in the past.

“You may remember that I was the most pro-dialogue before the May 9 incident and my decision was to form a committee of Pakistan Peoples Party to unite all our allies and contact them and convince them. I went by helicopter and tried to convince everyone by myself that we should have a dialogue with them and that dialogue was on the issue of holding elections on the same day all over Pakistan. That dialogue was successful. He [Khan] declared before you that elections should be held on the same day in the entire country.”

The scion of the Bhutto dynasty said that his party representatives had to convince them and Khan’s representatives had to convince him. He alleged Khan has never taken any political decision or democratic decision in his life and sabotaged his own decision and sabotaged the rivals’ decisions too.

‘PTI is like a child’

He went on to add that the PTI has never suffered the consequences of their actions and described the Khan-led party as a “child”.

They have not learned and continue to misbehave, said Bilawal.

“When he [Khan] came to power, we brought no confidence to remove him, which was a democratic method, but his behavior was undemocratic. [CJP] Justice Bandial also said that it was an undemocratic and unconstitutional action, but I stood up in the assembly and said that action should be taken against those who violate the constitution. I am sorry to say that they did not take any action,” he said.

In response to a question, Bilawal said that this question was raised in the cabinet regarding Al-Qadir Trust, but he opposed it as the country was facing multiple challenges.

About foreign funding, he added that the government had proof brought by Akbar S Babar and it had the power to ban it, but the PPP opposed to not setting any wrong precedent.

“I understand now that I have no place, PPP has no place, no way, that I can in any way dilute the action of the 9th of May,” Bilawal, “he [Khan] has crossed all red lines and the law that he brought when he was PM, the amendment to the Army Act. If he didn’t like something, he could have brought an amendment but he didn’t. PTI will have to face the existing law.”

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Bilawal Bhutto Zardari

may 9 riot

Politics May 26 2023