Pakistan Peoples Party leader Bilawal Bhutto Zardari on Tuesday sought military action against the Taliban as the government mulls options to tackle the scourge of militancy in the country.
Bilawal, who has in the recent past upped his ante against the Pakistani Taliban, said the country had exhausted the option of talks with militants and that military action was now needed.
“Dialogue is always an option but we have to have a position of strength. How do you talk from a position of strength? You have to beat them on the battlefield. They’re fighting us,” the 25-year-old Bhutto family scion told BBC in an interview.
He said it was time to “wake up” to the threats posed by militant groups.
His comments came amid intense speculation here about a possible targeted military operation against the militants groups, especially the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan.
The Pakistan Air Force had last week bombed suspected militant hideouts in North Waziristan – a key haven for Taliban and al Qaeda elements which was backed by army gunship helicopters.
The operation by Air Force jets took many by surprise.
This was the first time the Air Force resorted to air strikes in North Waziristan since a ceasefire was finalised with local Taliban chiefs in 2007.
Pakistan’s National Assembly is meeting to discuss the country’s response to a series of recent militant attacks, including an attack on an army convoy earlier this month.
The assembly’s session on Monday ended without decision amid differences over holding talk with the Taliban, which the government is in favour of.
The PPP chairman said “we are failing” as the country’s brave voices were dying out one after the other, adding that if we acted in unison, the Taliban would not be able to challenge us.
Bilawal told the BBC he thought the assassination of his mother in 2007 would “wake the country up” – but that politicians had wasted the consensus built up by his family, partly by believing that the US should fight the Taliban for them.
He said that there was no consensus in the country on the issue of holding talks and whatever consensus had been developed earlier was wasted by the politicians who called Pakistan’s war America’s war.
Bilawal said he wanted to take on more responsibility in his Pakistan Peoples Party, which was badly defeated in last year’s elections.
“I never saw myself as being in politics,” he said.
“But now when I am here in my country and I see the state of my country I just feel I want to play… any role I can to make sure we are a peaceful, prosperous and progressive nation that my mother dreamed of, that my mother died fighting for.”