LAHORE - Welcoming the US-Taliban peace agreement despite concerns over excluding the Afghan government, Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto has expressed hope of meaningful intra-Afghan dialogue for the restoration of real peace in the war torn country.

“It seems all stakeholders including Pakistan are working to ensure victory of Donald Trump in the US elections. If it is the case, there will neither be stability nor it will be in the benefit of Pakistan or Afghanistan”, he said while speaking at Meet the Press programme of Lahore Press Club on Monday afternoon.

Former Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf, PPP Punjab President Qamar Zaman Kaira, Ch Manzoor Ahmed, Sindh minister Nasir Shah and LPC office bearers were also present.

Bilawal said that only Afghan-owned process could ensure a lasting peace in the country and the region.

“I doubt the success of the agreement signed without taking onboard the Afghan citizens and the government,” he said, adding, the process starting with a tweet of Donald Trump and a direct conversation with Taliban could not bring desired results. He, however, expressed hope of meaningful intra-Afghan dialogue for democratic solution of the issue.

Supports US-Taliban deal

Dispelling the impression of achievement of Imran Khan led government in bringing the US and Taliban to table, he said that the situation was entirely different than during the PPP or PML-N regimes.

“In our or during the PML-N regime, the Haqqanis were bad boys. But now even New York Times is writing editorial on Siraj Haqqani”, he said, adding, the goal posts were changed this time around and it had nothing to do with Imran Khan led government.

Accusing the government of having no concrete plan, he said that the IMF negotiated with own men and got anti-poor terms accepted without any resistance. He vowed to renegotiate terms with IMF after coming into power with the public support. He said that the country could be run with public support and not with ‘finger of umpire’.

He stressed the need of restoring public confidence to increase tax collection. He said that Sindh managed to collect more revenue by reducing sales tax rate.

Referring to the European Union report accusing use of National Accountability Bureau (NAB) for victimisation of political opponents, he said that NAB Chairman should have resigned after the episode.

He said that the business community had conveyed that fact that NAB and economy could not go together to Chief of Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa.

He said the ‘black law’ must be abolished paving way for an institution where all and sundry could be held accountable and those found not guilty must not have to undergo the agony of character assassination.

He said none would believe that Mian Nawaz Sharif was put behind the bars on corruption.

He regretted that NAB had even sent notice to late brother of Syed Khurshid Shah.

He said that the PPP was waiting for justice in Zulfiqar Bhutto, Benazir Bhutto and Asif Zardari cases.

He hoped that the institutions supposed to give justice won’t become builders of dams, a reference to the dam fund set up by former Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar.

Bilawal said that the PTI government attacked the Press by not paying newspapers and electronic media their outstanding dues. “And on this excuse journalists from every institution were fired”, he said, adding, the censorship was on the rise not only for the Opposition, but also for journalists and social media activists.

To a query about statement of Railways Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed,,he said that ‘talks of gutter must be left to gutter’.

“In the past, Imran Khan continued demanding resignation of the Minister after each rail accident. Now the accidents had registered considerable increase. He (Sheikh Rashid) is trying to divert attention through his talks. Even Chief Justice Gulzar Chaudhry could do nothing against him”, he said, adding. that the current tenure of the ‘selected Minister’ would be the last one as the masses would no more tolerate him.