Pakistan Peoples Party chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has said resolving the Kashmir issue and the Afghanistan peace process are crucial for the stability of his country. Bilawal, in an interaction with a Washington audience, rued that no big powers are trying to resolve the Kashmir issue, which he said is the most glaring bone of dangerous contention between the two South Asian nuclear-armed neighbours.
In his remarks at the US Institute of Peace (USIP), a top American think-tank, Bilawal rued that he sees no future or peace and prosperity in the region, unless issues of hundreds and thousands of people of Kashmir are addressed. Resolving the Kashmir issue and the Afghanistan peace process are crucial for Pakistan’s stability, he said. Bilawal, who is eyeing to lead his party in the next general elections in 2018, accused India of trying to leverage its advantage over the Indus Water Treaty. This shows how extremist elements are failing the people in South Asia.
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Arguing that Islamic extremism is not a tap that can be turned on and off, Bilawal said his party supports peaceful resolution of the Afghan issue. He supported an Afghan-led reconciliation process with the Taliban. In a tacit acknowledgement of changing mood about Pakistan in the US, Bilawal said he gets the sense that Pakistan is the “dispensable ally” once again.
“We are fighting the largest war against terrorism…and it seems that we are doing it on our own,” he said.
“The spread of terrorism and violent extremism has redefined our lives in ways we could not imagine,” Bilawal said and exuded confidence that that through the democratic system, Pakistan will find its way through the darkness.
Pakistan, he acknowledged, has a lot to answer for when it comes to treating minorities in Pakistan. The PPP leader rued that the foreign policy of Pakistan under the Nawaz Sharif Government is weak.
“We need a strong foreign policy,” he said, alleging that Pakistan’s relationship with each of its neighbors have deteriorated under Prime Minister Sharif.
“Leadership is lacking at the moment in Pakistan’s foreign policy,” he said.
Bilawal supported China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), noting that it is helping create jobs in the country.
“It is encouraging that China has stepped up,” he said and strongly refuted the impression that this is at the expense of relationship with the US.
Responding to a question, he said the issues of Balochistan, are not being properly discussed in the national Pakistani media. It is a serious challenge, he said. On the Trump’s Administration’s executive order to ban people coming to the US from seven countries, he said this is “an extremely controversial” decision.
“We have learned through history that this is not the way to address this issue,” he said, adding that few criminals should not be allowed to spoil the situation.
At the same time, he praised the outpouring of support in favour of those who have been affected by the travel ban.