NEW YORK – Ridiculing the US for demanding Islamabad “do more” in combating terrorism, the Pakistan People’s Party appears to have toughened its stance as its Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has called on President Barack Obama to show courage and apologise to Pakistan over the Salala raid.
“It is time for the US to do more,” he told cheering PPP workers and supporters at a meeting Monday night.
He demanded an immediate end to the drone attacks.
“It is ludicrous to keep demanding Pakistan do more under these circumstances. Over 4,000 Pakistani troops have been martyred in this war. That is more than all Nato forces combined,” Bilawal said at the meeting which took place at the residence of PPP US chapter President Shafqat Tanweer.
Earlier in the day, the PPP chairman attended a big ceremony at which a documentary on the life and mission of Benazir Bhutto received Peabody Award, the most prestigious honour in electronic media. His aunt Sanam Bhutto was also present at the two-hour ceremony conducted by Patrick Stewart of Star Track fame.
Bilawal said: “I would like the American public to consider what their reaction would have been if American troops had been killed in such an attack on their border with Mexico.
“I urge President Obama to show some courage. I understand he is running for re-election but if he is the same man who inspired the world with his message of hope and change the future of Nato mission in Afghanistan should be more important than poll numbers. Pakistan deserves an apology.”
He went on: “The continuing unilateral US drone attacks on Pakistani soil was a constant irritant to Pakistani public opinion - both as a clear violation of our sovereignty and the toll of collateral damage to innocent victims. These illegal strikes, that violate international law and even the US’s war powers act, must end,” the PPP chief said.
The meeting took place at Tanweer’s residence on Long Island that his mother, Benazir Bhutto, visited several times during her trips to the United States. On arrival, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari was given a warm welcome with “Zinda Bad” and “Jeeay Bhutto” slogans.
Moments before the Chairman’s arrival, two rival groups in the party patched up their differences and agreed to work jointly for the cause of the country.
Referring to the other incidents that led to the present tensions, the PPP chairman said: “The unilateral action in Abbottabad made many in Pakistan question whether the United States actually considered Pakistan a military ally in our common war on terrorism and extremism.”
“The Raymond Davis fiasco made many in our country question the CIA activities in Pakistan,” he added.
“This is truly a moment of tension and re-examination. We are at a crossroads. The future of the bilateral relationship could well determine the success of moderation against extremism in South and Central Asia.”
He said his mother lived and died fighting for democracy, human rights, women’s rights, moderation against extremism, modernity against ignorance and a better future. “That is why I am in America today, to do everything in my power to bring Pakistan and the United States back on track so that we can jointly achieve my mother’s dream.”
Outlining the achievements of PPP government led by President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, he said it had done more than any other government.
Replying to a question about the electricity crisis, the PPP chairman said the government was alive to the situation and was taking steps to overcome it, while blaming the past governments for doing nothing in developing the energy sector. In fact, Pakistan was surplus in electricity during the Benazir government and was even prepared to sell it to India but the move was denounced by opposition parties.