Bilawal, during a press conference on Wednesday, said his party’s stance is that the people of GB should take the decisions concerning their future themselves because it is their right. “We demand free and fair elections in GB. If they don’t take place, then we don’t have a bigger national security threat,” he added.
Bilawal that Army Chief Gen Bajwa too agreed that free and fair polls should be held in GB.
“I got the impression that the army chief did not want elections to be controversial in the future and desired that we carry out election reforms that result in free and fair elections. The biggest test case for this will be the upcoming GB polls,” he stressed.
Announcing that he will personally lead the PPP’s campaign for the GB polls, Bilawal said the GB elections will mark the point “from where we will move towards non-controversial elections”. He also revealed the names of PPP’s candidates for the GB polls.
Press conf on APC, Floods & GB. PPP demands: People of GB must decide their future. free & fair elections must be held immediately, PPP will run on its 2018 manifesto. All party’s should take GB page out of ppp manifesto. Will personally lead GB campaign https://t.co/jSrDP9Twpc
— BilawalBhuttoZardari (@BBhuttoZardari) September 23, 2020
During the news conference, the PPP chairperson also demanded of the federal government to provide compensation to small farmers who have suffered heavy losses due to floods caused by torrential rains, and declare an agriculture emergency.
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Referring to Railways Minister Sheikh Rashid, PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari on Wednesday said those revealing details from a recent meeting of key opposition figures with the military leadership need to be stopped because such conversations are meant to be confidential.
“Whenever there’s a national security issue, whether it concerns India, AJK and GB, FATA, extremism and terrorism, we were, are today and will be together on these in the future,” he said.
Bilawal on national security
He said his party had never commented on national security meetings, which are “in-camera, off the record”, and journalists too understand not to share publicly anything said off the record.
But Bilawal said he had to talk about the meeting with the military leadership to the extent of the disclosures made about it, “out of helplessness”.
“Some irresponsible persons who have nothing to do with national security, GB, AJK or foreign policy, and who didn’t say a word in this meeting, are giving statements on every TV channel these days,” he said.
“I think such actions make national security and foreign policy issues controversial. And whoever’s spokesperson this [person] is, they should immediately ask them to shut up and not say anything irresponsible,” Bilawal added.
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He later named this person as Railways Minister Rashid, who has in recent days appeared on various prime time talk shows to confirm details of the meeting. Bilawal said the narrative Rashid is spreading “is not setting a good precedent”.
“You can never be able to create consensus on any issue if such things happen,” he added, saying his party in the future will not attend any meeting in which Rashid is also present.
In response to a question, the PPP chairman ruled out any discussion between the army leadership and the country’s political leadership on any amendments or laws.
“The reason for the army chief to engage with the political leadership of the country was to discuss the overall situation, the overall environment of that region [Gilgit-Baltistan],” said Bilawal. “Would have been better if Prime Minister Imran Khan would have been there.
Answering another question, Bilawal said that the party did not agree with the military leadership on elections 2018 but going forward, expected that transparent elections will be held.
“Gilgit-Baltistan [election] is an opportunity after which if all political parties conduct electoral reforms in parliament and if we contest next elections on these reforms, I think this issue will be solved,” he said.
GVS News desk with input from online sources