While political and legal circles are abuzz with the talk of the proposed special trial courts to try terrorism suspects, PPP Co-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari said his party “supports these courts on the condition that they will not be used for political victimisation”.
“Military courts are needed but they should not be misused,” Zardari said while addressing a huge gathering at Garhi Khuda Bux organised in connection with the seventh death anniversary of PPP’s slain chairperson Benazir Bhutto on Saturday.
“We are supporting these courts conditionally,” he said, adding that his party wanted to bequeath a prosperous and peaceful Pakistan to the coming generations.
Zardari blamed former military ruler Pervez Musharraf for the upward spiral of militant violence in the country. “Had he [Musharraf] taken notice of the October 18, 2007 terror attack on PPP workers and launched an operation against terrorists, the Peshawar tragedy could have been averted,” he added.
“Although he [Musharraf] is on bail, he is engaged in politics with the army’s help,” Zardari said. “If the army wants to use him in politics, then we are ready to face him the way we faced military dictators since General Ziaul Haq’s era.”
The PPP co-chairman said that short-sighted leaders and army generals mixed up the ‘Jihad in Kashmir’ with the Afghan insurgency which not only undermined the Kashmir struggle but also allowed the Jihadis to sneak into our cities and towns.
“Due to the [security] establishment’s lack of vision, Jihadis have spread throughout the country and now we are unable to differentiate between ‘good Taliban’ and ‘bad Taliban’,” he added.
Zardari also sought to quash ‘rumours’ of differences between him and his son, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari. “People often spread rumours about the PPP and its leadership, but despite all these conspiracies and rumours, our party is united and strong,” he said.
However, he added that one has to go through the ordeals of prisons before taking over bigger roles. “One has to give tremendous sacrifices and pass through the torturous prisons before shouldering bigger responsibilities,” he added.
Claiming to be a political disciple of PPP founder Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, Zardari said his late wife, Benazir Bhutto, had taught him the nuances of politics. “When I was released after spending 11 years in jail, she entrusted me with the party’s responsibilities,” he said.
Zardari also announced that after his death he would be buried in Garhi Khuda Bux, the hometown of the Bhutto family. “Anyone who leads the PPP is entitled to be buried in Garhi Khuda Bux,” he added.
He also dispelled the rumours of differences between PPPP President Makhdoom Amin Fahim and the party leadership. “He [Fahim] never ditched the party in past and he will never do that in the future.”
Earlier addressing the gathering, Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Syed Khurshid Shah said Benazir Bhutto had warned against the scourge of terrorism and had returned to Pakistan to save the country – ‘a cause for which she sacrificed her life’.
Shah said PPP workers did not flock to Garhi Khuda Bux just to pay homage to the martyrs of the Bhutto family. “We come to seek inspiration from here,” he said.
Speaking at the occasion, Sindh Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah said the PPP would continue its struggle to root out terrorism from the country. “The Sindh government is strong and stable,” he said and claimed that the PPP would form a government at the centre after the next elections.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 28th, 2014.