ISLAMABAD - Pakistan People’s Party chief Bilawal Bhutto Zardari defended the military on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum counting its contributions in the fight on terror and to defend the country.

In his first interview with the Indian media, he strongly defended the Pakistan military in its fight against terrorism when cross questioned aggressively, and held back no punches on the contribution Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s India was making to the rise in hyper-nationalist and exclusionary politics in South Asia.

Keeping the need for peace at centre-stage, Bilawal argued that relations must not be between persons, but between states.

“Therefore, diplomacy cannot be about private visits and unrecorded encounters but must be embedded in real strategic conflict-resolution and dialogue without conditions posed on the media,” he said.

As news from the WEF dominated the airwaves in Europe and America, clips of some good leadership news from Pakistan were like a breath of fresh air at the forum, where Pakistan is often demonised on many scores including terrorism.

After Bilawal and PPP Vice-President Senator Sherry Rehman concluded a successful trip to Davos, Switzerland, it was clear from local and international sources that the PPP chairman stood out as a rising big voice, making a powerful public case for Pakistan.

PPP leader Sherry Rehman said at multiple public and private forums Bilawal emerged as a strong advocate for his country to be better recognised as a brave, resilient nation fighting global challenges such as extremism, terrorism, poverty, misogyny, intolerance, and climate change.

With leaders and media commenting on how Benazir Bhutto’s son has come to shine at Davos like her, from all the interviews and public schedule at the WEF, it was clear that the young PPP chairman made a huge impression at Davos, where the world’s global political, business and development elite gathered for the annual meeting to advance their business and social pitch, she added.

Sandwiched between the Modi and Donald Trump delegations, the official Pakistan delegation led by Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi did its modest bit by launching Pakistan Pavilion but one of the best and loudest message from Pakistan went when Bilawal decided to attend the Pakistan breakfast hosted by the Pathfinder Group for senior Pakistani delegates, along with Senator Sherry Rehman, to show the world that Pakistan’s democracy may rage in robust opposition at home, but once abroad Pakistani democrats unite like all other democracies to pitch for their country and defend against attacks on all state institutions.

By inviting businessmen and strategic investors to Pakistan, Bilawal plumped for the country’s soft power as a demographically crucial hub for investors.

After this encounter, social media went ablaze with praise even from detractors about the grace and dignity he summoned to the task of representing Pakistan without ceding an inch of political and intellectual ground to the swarm of Pakistan’s regular detractors.

In back-to-back engagements lined up for his WEF debut, he exploded some glib Western myths on fake news and the alleged role of the WMDs in Iraq as a prime example of how the post-truth political and media culture can wreak havoc, if facts are not checked.

As the youngest panelist for this year’s BBC World Debate at Davos on the threat fake news poses to democracies, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari made a point to appreciate Pakistan’s journalists who have played an important role in safeguarding Pakistan’s democracy against three dictatorships during very tough times.

He reminded everyone of the everyday price journalists pay in Pakistan in the frontline against violent extremism.

Bilawal warned of the impact fake news may have on fragile democracies like Pakistan and strongly advocated for empowering the people through education.

Accompanied by Senator Sherry Rehman, Bilawal kicked off his second day at Davos with a public session on countering violent extremism where he gave the Pakistan perspective.

According to Senator Rehman, Bilawal made a strong pitch for seeking common ground in our collective fight against extremism.

He also made an important point that tends to be forgotten: extremism needs to be countered as much as terrorism, where international communities focus only on military solutions and have few, if any successes to show for in their expensive long wars against terrorism too.

To encourage young entrepreneurs and social activists who were looking for leadership goals on important issues, Bilawal Bhutto spoke at the WEF’s Instagram Project on how to tackle the rise of cultural, racial and religious discrimination around the world, and find solutions that create economic growth and justice, invest in green technologies and battle climate stress.

The PPP chairman was also the only Pakistani at the young world leaders’ private dinner alongside Jared Kushner, Prince Hussein bin Abdullah of Jordan and Haakun Magnus, Crown Prince of Norway hosted by Børge Brende, president of the WEF and Jared Cohen, CEO of Jigsaw.

Bilawal concluded his trip saying: “We must leverage our youth bulge in Pakistan by investing in education, innovation and promoting progressive values. It’s also important to plan our shared futures by building common ground in the region to face global challenges such as extremism, terrorism, inequality and climate change.”