LAHORE - Federal Minister for Railways and PML-N leader Khwaja Saad Rafiq has said the execution of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was a judicial murder although the rule of Bhutto itself was an era of civil dictatorship during which his father Khwaja Rafiq was killed by the People Guards.

“Without forgetting and pushing aside bitterness of the past, political parties cannot move forward as such instead of taking pride in the past mistakes the politicians must take to the course of forgiveness and forgetfulness,” Saad said while speaking at the 44th death anniversary of his father yesterday.

Defence Minister Khwaja Muhammad Asif, MNA Hamza Shehbaz Sharif, former PML-N leader Javed Hashmi and others were also among the speakers on the occasion.

The railways minister advised PPP Co-Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari to look into the history of the era of his grandfather ZA Bhutto and don’t challenge others on the basis of what happened in the past. He expressed pains over the assassination of former Prime Minister and PPP Chairperson Benazir Bhutto and said the void created by her death would never be filled.

At the same time, the minister admitted mistake of the accountability of politicians under the Ehtesab Bureau of Saifur Rahman during the second stint of Nawaz Sharif government (1997-99) and said his party leadership also confesses that it virtually was not accountability. If they admitted their past mistakes, others should also do theirs and all have to move forward forgiving each other, Saad suggested.

He further said they were following the policy of forgiveness and forgetfulness as without doing that, they cannot move ahead.

Khwaja Saad, peeping through his political life, said it was CM Shehbaz Sharif who tempered and schooled him in political decorum. “It is training of the party leadership that we freely share our opinions on all the party matters and follow democratic tradition instead of mewing like cats as do the people in other parties,” he remarked.

The PML-N stalwart said they had learnt greatly from the past which has paid them dividend that today others get lesson of democracy from Nawaz Sharif. He advised the PPP politician to perform instead of playing rhetoric, also asking PTI Chairman Imran Khan to set up camp in his province – KPK - to assess the worth of his government so that his party could come down the election arena in 2018 with something in hand.

Defence Minister Khwaja Asif said they had achieved democracy after huge struggle. Highlighting performance of the government in energy sectors and other development projects, he said a 300mw electricity plant is also being set up in Gwadar in addition to many others.

With the passage of time, Asif said, Pakistan is reaching the target of getting rid of all problems and attaining prosperity.

“The PML-N is sure of coming up triumphant again in the next election on the basis of its performance as the fruit of the government policies in every sector has begun to reach the masses. Look at Lahore, where development works have completely changed complexion of the city,” he added.

The defence minister held the rivals politicians did their own loss by wasting time over the last three and half years while they delivered. He asked the party workers to start preparations for next elections due in 2018.

Hamza Shehbaz said the politics of container and sit-ins only serve the purpose of dictatorship; therefore, that mode cannot do any good to the country nor bring about any political change. “Only democratic norms will prevail now.”

Alluding to Imran Khan, he said no one become prime minister overnight. “Hybrid politicians, however, are looking for short cuts to reach to that office.”

Referring to the hardships faced by Nawaz Sharif and his other family members during Musharraf era, Hamza said the goal of becoming PM is achieved after lot of sacrifices and struggles. But in PTI, he said, the workers are baton-charged at Bani Gala while their leader enjoys coffee inside his farm house. “This is not the way to become the PM.”

Hamza also asked to PPP to shun the course of agitation to let the democracy continue.

Javed Hashmi said he was a Muslim Leaguer and will remain so throughout. Hashmi who had quitted the vice president office of the PTI at the time of PTI sit-in in 2014, said he had then asked Imran Khan to avoid attack on Parliament building. Hashmi also laid stress on the devolution of power to the lowest level for the sake of promoting democracy in the country. He supported creation of new provinces on the basis of administrative needs.