ISLAMABAD -  Pakistan People’s Party chief Bilawal Bhutto Zardari yesterday said Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Muttahida Qaumi Movement founder Altaf Hussain were not traitors.

Speaking to journalists here after a meeting with Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (Fazl) leader Maulana Fazlur Rehman, Bilawal said he considered Sharif an elected PM who was a patriot.

“I never called uncle Nawaz Sharif or uncle Altaf (Hussain) a traitor. They are patriots. Uncle Nawaz Sharif is an elected PM so deserves respect. Our differences are political but I consider him a patriotic Pakistani and democratically elected PM. I have only called (Indian Prime Minister Narendnra) Modi’s friends as traitors,” the PPP leader said.

In the recent weeks, the PPP chief had blamed PM Sharif of being friend of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and thus compromising over the Kashmir issue. He had also raised the slogans that whoever was Modi’s friend was a traitor.

The PPP leader had claimed to win Kashmir’s freedom and snatch it from India without elaborating how he will achieve this goal.

He said the MQM founder was a reality in the past and was still a political reality. “We should accept every party’s mandate,” he added.

Asked about cooperation with Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf, Bilawal said his party will continue working with other political forces of the country for national unity.

The PPP leader said he had serious differences with the government over the foreign policy, but this did not make anyone a “traitor”.

Snubbing the suggestion by PTI chief Imran Khan to remove PPP co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari, Bilawal said this was a strange proposal. “I did not expect Imran Khan to make such a statement. It surprised me,” he maintained.

He said that first the minus-one formula was implemented when PPP founder Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto was murdered. “Then they implemented minus-one when my uncle Shahnawaz Bhutto was murdered, then through the murder of my other uncle Murtaza Bhutto, then with the murder of my mother Benazir Bhutto, now they are saying Zardari should be removed in some years they will be saying  minus Bilawal from PPP,” the PPP leader remarked.

Minutes after his ‘minus-one’ comments, MQM London chapter leader Nadeem Nusrat said no one can remove any party leader through force.

“We welcome Bilawal’s statement. The leaders cannot be removed on somebody’s will. “There have been voices of minus-one in MQM but Altaf Hussain enjoys public support. Whenever there have been elections, people have voted for us,” he said in a statement from London.

Nusrat said Bilawal had made positive remarks about Altaf Hussain which were ‘appreciable.’ “Let the people decide who they want as their leader,” he added.

Bilawal stressed the need for upholding national interest and made it clear that PPP will never compromise Pakistan's interest.

The PPP leader said he came to meet Maulana Fazlur Rehman at his residence to discuss Kashmir issue and not to “hatch any conspiracy” against anyone.

Regarding the JUI-F chief, the PPP chief said Maulana Rehman was his elder and he had supported PPP on the 18th amendments and other issues.

Bilawal said that it was an honour for him that Fazlur Rehman had worked with his maternal grandfather and father. He said that Kashmir was a national issue and PPP played a role to unite the nation on Kashmir issue.

He flayed the government for allegedly harming the national unity on Kashmir issue during the joint sitting. “What happened during the joint sitting on Thursday (the verbal brawl between the opposition and treasury members) should not have happened,” he remarked.

He requested the JUI-F chief to convince Prime Minister Sharif for passage of opposition’s moved Panama Inquiry Bill from the parliament. He said the PPP wanted fair investigation into the scandal.

Speaking on the occasion, Maulana Fazlur Rehman said that they will have a joint strategy on common issues. “JUI-F and PPP have a history of working together,” he said. The JUI-F chief said the whole nation was united on the Kashmir issue.

He said the political differences could be settled through talks. “Force can’t be used to impose decisions,” he added. Maulana Rehman said he will convey Bilawal’s message to PM Sharif.

Earlier, a PPP delegation led by Bilawal on called Maulana Fazlur Rehman and discussed the situation in held Kashmir and Panama leaks. The PPP delegation comprised Khurshid Shah, Qamar Zaman Kaira and Faisal Karim Kundi. The issue of madrassa (seminaries) registration in Sindh and the latest political situation also came under discussion.

Meanwhile, PPP leader Rehman Malik strongly condemned the Indian brutalities on innocent Kashmiris and aggression along the Line of Control.

Speaking to journalists here yesterday, he said Indian PM Modi was an “extremist and declared terrorist” whose ideology was hate mongering rather peace promotion between the two countries.

“I have all the proofs that India was behind Samjhauta Express, Mumbai attacks and Pathankot tragedy and the most recently Uri attack is India’s self-generated attack to divert attentions from Indian forces brutalities,” he said.

He said it was India that broken Pakistan into two pieces with the help of Mukti Bahani and today India was following the same design to replicate the same in Balochistan but Modi forgets that “it is not 1971 but 2016.”