ISLAMABAD: Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto has reiterated that former president General (r) Pervez Musharraf must return to Pakistan and face the charges levelled against him.
“Musharraf threatened my mother … he is involved in her assassination. We even presented witnesses in the court, but to no avail,” he told BBC’s Hardtalk in an interview.
Throughout the length of the interview, Bilawal repeatedly reiterated former president Pervez Musharraf’s alleged 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. He said the DNA records they presented in the murder case were ignored and it took almost 10 years for the anti-terrorism court to announce the verdict that had to be given within two weeks.
When asked why ministers of the PPP government refused to record statements to the UN’s investigation team, Bilawal admitted that it was a fault of the party. “However, that did not affect the outcome of the investigation, they were not consequential,” he said. “The report and evidence directly point to my mother’s security being sabotaged,” he added.
He said that strong evidence and proofs point towards Musharraf but 10 years have passed without justice prevailing in the matter. “Musharraf is also on trial for multiple other violations, his biggest case is of treason,” he added.
On PPP’s performance in the 2013 general elections, 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, 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],” he claimed. “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,” he asked. He also said that the ruling PML-N’s government is ‘reactionary’ and is being led from ‘behind’.
The PPP chairman said three days after Benazir’s death, the central executive committee of the party told him to take over. “They felt I could continue my mother’s mission, they trusted me and chose me,” he said. “I didn’t choose this, but they approached me and I had no choice but to rise to the occasion,” he added. Bilawal indicated that it was not hereditary politics that led him to be the chairman of his party, 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 said that he is in politics for the long run and 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. 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. When asked about the corruption allegations against his 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.” Bilawal shot back, “But he does, and we know it and it is on record.”
Published in Daily Times, April 20th 2018.