Had Kashmiris been given rights, incidents like Pulwama would not have happened: Bilawal

MUNICH, Feb 18 (INP): Pakistan Peoples Party chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has said terrorist incidents such as the recent deadly Pulwama attack would not have happened if Kashmiris in the Indian-occupied valley had been given their rights.

Bilawal was speaking to reporters at the conclusion of the Munich Security Conference 2019, which he attended in the capacity of a young global leader.

He strongly condemned last week’s suicide attack in Pulwama, in which at least 44 Indian paramilitary soldiers were killed when an improvised explosive device targetted a convoy of military vehicles as it passed the Srinagar-Jammu Highway in Awantipora area.

“Had Kashmiris been given their rights, such terrorism incidents [like Pulwama attack] would not have happened,” Bilawal lamented, adding that India’s levying of allegations against Pakistan was a “natural and emotional” reaction to the incident. “Pakistan has a clear stance on terrorism: we neither support terrorism nor want terrorism,” the PPP leader stressed. Bilawal said that from his meetings with other leaders and social workers at the conference, he did not get the impression that they thought Pakistan provided a safe haven to terrorists. In fact, they all think Pakistan and PPP have sacrificed a lot in the war against terrorism, he added. He emphasised that fighting terrorism was important for Pakistan’s own future, not just because of India’s insistence. Lamenting the lack of implementation of the National Action Plan, Bilawal noted that if Pakistan failed to strictly follow the NAP, then it could face criticism from both local and foreign platforms. On Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman’s visit to Pakistan, Bilawal welcomed the development and said it was important to have friendly diplomatic relations with all countries. He said Pakistan’s foreign policy should be devised on a broader basis keeping in view the regional situation. Addressing Prime Minister Imran Khan, Bilawal said it would have been better if the premier had consulted the Parliament on the making of Pakistan’s foreign policy. He lamented that the prime minister did not take the opposition into confidence on the crown prince’s visit. Despite this, the opposition did not do politics over the matter, Bilawal added. The PPP leader lauded the performance of his party in the 2018 general election, but expressed reservations on the transparency of the election. He said the PPP was working on a white paper which would be presented before the public soon. “PPP accepted the election results in order to avoid making the constitution controversial,” the chairman said. He pointed out that he would not use the word “selected PM” as he was not in Pakistan currently. Criticising the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf government, the PPP leader said the government’s plan was not clear. “Neither politics nor economy can survive by taking U-turns on every decision,” he remarked, as he advised the prime minister to accept his responsibilities and move forward with mutual dialogue. The government should find solutions to problems in consultation with the opposition, Bilawal added. INP/AJ