Democracy in no danger: Bilawal Bhutto

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ISLAMABAD – Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) chief Bilawal Bhutto on Monday said there was no danger to democracy and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s resignation will not affect the system

Addressing a “Meet the Press” programme here at the National Press Club, Bilawal said that just because Prime Minister Sharif was in danger did not mean the whole system was endangered.

“PM should resign forthwith. His resignation will not affect democracy. We support the system but cannot support looters,” he said.

Bilawal said that soon PM Sharif’s allies, including Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI-Fazl) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman, will back the PPP demand of Sharif’s resignation.

“The nation knows the PM has deceived them so there is no legal or moral justification for Nawaz Sharif to stay in power. He must quit immediately and if he does not do so, we will be forced to take to the streets. A protest movement could be launched,” he said.

On Monday, the Supreme Court began the hearing of the Panama Papers case, a week after the joint investigation team (JIT) submitted its report in the top court.

Nawaz Sharif’s family and Finance Minister Ishaq Dar submitted their objections on the JIT report, which found “significant” disparities in Sharif family’s income and actual wealth.

The JIT was formed in April to probe the Sharif family’s money trail and it submitted the report to the supreme court on July 10.

Prime Minister Sharif objected to the report terming it as “biased”.

The 10-page document submitted by the prime minister claimed the JIT had violated its mandate.

“JIT’s biased report should be rejected,” Nawaz Sharif appealed to the apex court.

The premier requested the court to make the volume 10 of the report public, which has been kept confidential so far.

There were reports that Prime Minister Sharif, who is confident to remain in power, has prepared a tentative list of potential candidates for the top slot, if he was disqualified by the Supreme Court in the Panama Papers scandal.

The PM has reportedly finalised the names of federal ministers Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, Ahsan Iqbal, Khawaja Mohammed Asif, Khurram Dastgir Khan and Shahid Khaqan Abbasi in case of a decision against him.

Key ally Maulana Fazlur Rehman, the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F), is also a candidate if the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) did not agree on a nominee from within the party.

Bilawal said that his father and mother – Asif Ali Zardari and Benazir Bhutto – were subjected to vicious accountability on fake cases, but the PPP still did not make a hue and cry.

“We are even ready for more accountability. If they want to investigate our assets, we are ready to face it. The Sharif family has been held accountable for the first time. This is why they are crying,” he said.

Bilawal said that PM Sharif was claiming that a conspiracy was being hatched against him but was not ready to share any details.

“He should tell us who is conspiring against him. The best thing for the PM to do is quit. This will be in the best interest of the nation,” he contended. Bilawal said that the PPP had always fought for the rights of the journalists and would continue to raise voice for them.

“In the recent months more than 100 journalists and media workers have been killed. The PPP and the media have suffered at the hands of the extremists. There is a need for proper legislation for the safety of the journalists,” he said.

Bilawal said that the National Commission for Human Rights Act was passed during the PPP government in 2012.

He urged the government to implement PPP’s recommendation on the issue of the missing persons.

Bilawal said that the PPP would produce good results in the 2018 general elections as the annoyed workers were being placated.

On arrival at the NPC, Bilawal, accompanied by Senator Sherry Rehman, Khurshid Shah, Faisal Kundi and others – was welcomed by the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists President, Afzal Butt.

Earlier in the day, the PPP chief visited the site of the district courts in Sector F-8 where a party rally was targeted in 2007 in a terrorist attack killing at least 18 people and wounding dozens of others.

The PPP had organised the rally for the restoration of the judges of the superior courts who had been sacked by former military ruler Pervez Musharraf.

Former chief justice Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry was scheduled to address the rally but the bomb went off before his arrival.

Speaking on the occasion, Bilawal said that the PPP would not forget its workers who laid down their lives against the dictatorship.

He said that the PPP had always been targeted by the terrorists across the country.

In the last general elections, Bilawal said, the PPP was not even allowed to organise rallies.

“The PPP will continue its struggle for democracy and for the rights of the people. We will not give up the efforts for a strong, peaceful and democratic Pakistan,” he said.

This news was published in The Nation newspaper.

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