LONDON - The son of the assassinated former prime minister Benazir Bhutto has called on the country’s authorities to take military action against militant groups.
Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said politicians must “wake up” to the threat posed by armed groups such as the Taliban.
Bilawal Bhutto is under scrutiny for everything - from his fluency in the Urdu language to his very active Twitter account. He’s also under constant death threat from the Taliban he blames for his mother Benazir Bhutto’s death.
Talking to BBC on Tuesday, Bilawal appeared poised and confident as he took questions on everything from his suitability for politics, his party’s record, to allegations of corruption against his own father, former president Asif Ali Zardari.
At a time when many have been silenced, understandably, by attacks by the Taliban and others, he bravely calls on much older politicians to fight back. Some call him naive, even reckless. But there’s a sense that this young Bhutto is now moving more fully into the life he says “I didn’t choose... it chose me”. He’ll be challenged by a world far more dangerous and difficult than in his mother’s and grandfather’s time. And he’ll be watched by a people desperate for change who demand more than a celebrated name. He wouldn’t be drawn on the extent of his ambitions, saying simply he wants to “play some role”.
Speaking exclusively to the BBC, he said Pakistan had exhausted the option of talks with militants and that military action was now needed. “Dialogue is always an option but we have to have a position of strength,” he said. “How do you talk from a position of strength? You have to beat them on the battlefield. They’re fighting us. “It’s not only confined to North Waziristan. They are attacking us in Karachi... We would like to eradicate the Taliban from Pakistan.”
Bilawal told the BBC he thought the assassination of his mother in 2007 would “wake the country up” - but that politicians had wasted the consensus built up by his family, partly by believing that the United States should fight the Taliban for them. He told the broadcast he wanted to take on more responsibility in his Pakistan People’s Party, which was badly defeated in last year’s elections after five years in power. “I never saw myself as being in politics,” he said.
“Now I think it is time for me or there is the opportunity for me to start taking on more responsibility. But I will be focused more on party politics and working with every level of the party - I don’t want to parachute myself in from the top. I want to work with the grassroots, with every level of the party across the country and my aim is the 2018 elections.”