Bilawal warns PTI of last chance to 'clarify itself a political party'

PPP chairman says will not negotiate with "militant party" if it does not apologise for arson attacks and violence during protests

Asif Bashir Chaudhary
Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari speaks during a joint session of parliament on May 15, 2023. — Facebook/NationalAssemblyOfPakistan
Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari speaks during a joint session of parliament on May 15, 2023. — Facebook/NationalAssemblyOfPakistan

  • Minister says will not negotiate with 'militant' PTI until apology.
  • Asks party to condemn arson and violent attacks during protests.
  • National Assembly also adopts a motion condemning PTI protests.

ISLAMABAD: Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari has warned the opposition Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) that it has one last chance to "clarify whether it wants to become a political party or not".

Speaking during a joint session of parliament Monday, he said that if the PTI is a political party, then it should first condemn the arson attacks and violence — perpetrated during widespread protests following the arrest of party chairman Imran Khan — and apologise.

"If it does not apologise, then we will not negotiate with a 'militant party', whether on the instructions of the chief justice or anyone else," he asserted.

The Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) chairman's comments come days after PTI supporters — enraged by the arrest of their chief in the Al-Qadir Trust case — attacked military installations and damaged both public and private properties in violence that lasted for days.

PTI protesters had attacked the Lahore Corps Commanders House and the General Headquarters (GHQ) in Rawalpindi, besides damaging other properties, including Radio Pakistan's Peshawar office.

The situation stabilised after the Supreme Court declared Khan's arrest by Rangers personnel on the warrant of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) "illegal" and ordered his immediate release.

Subsequently, the PTI chief was granted protective bail by the Islamabad High Court (IHC). The verdicts have been strongly criticised by the ruling coalition, which has said the courts "favoured" Khan.

Referring to the violent incidents in his address today, Bilawal said that they had "proved PTI was a militant party". 

Earlier today, the National Assembly unanimously adopted a motion to form a committee for filing a reference against Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial in the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC).

The motion, which was moved by Pakistan Peoples Party's (PPP) Dr Shazia Sobia, said a reference should be filed against the top judge for his "misconduct and deviating from oath".

The lower house of parliament also adopted a motion condemning the PTI's violent protests and demanded action against Khan and the protesters under the Army Act.

Lawmakers said such elements took the entire country hostage by creating anarchy and commotion and damaging public and private properties. Such anti-state elements do not deserve any leniency and they should be taken to task, they added.