Pakistan: Bilawal hints at releasing over 10,000 jailed PTI workers after coming to power

The former foreign minister urges Imran Khan's party workers to support him in the election on February 8

By PTI

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Bilawal Bhutto Zardari waves to supporters during an election campaign in Lahore. — Reuters
Bilawal Bhutto Zardari waves to supporters during an election campaign in Lahore. — Reuters

Published: Sun 21 Jan 2024, 8:53 PM

Pakistan People's Party (PPP) chief Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has hinted at releasing over 10,000 jailed workers of Imran Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party after coming to power in next month's general elections in the country.

Addressing a well-attended rally in Lahore on Sunday, Bilawal urged the PTI workers to support him in the February 8 polls and in return he will bury the politics of vengeance and free all incarcerated political workers.

"The PML-N of Sharifs is taking revenge on the PTI. I ask the PTI workers to support me. If I come to power, I will set free all political workers, including the PTI's," Bilawal promised.

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The PTI says over 10,000 party workers are still languishing in jails, mostly in Punjab and Kyber Pakhtaunkhawa provinces, for their alleged involvement in the attack on military installations in May last year.

As the Supreme Court has deprived the PTI of its iconic symbol cricket bat, all its candidates are now contesting independently. Since the military establishment is not allowing the PTI-backed candidates to campaign, the other parties like PPP and Jamaat-e-Islami Pakistan are luring the PTI supporters.

"I want to bury the politics of hate and division with the support of the people. Nawaz Sharif doesn't want to. He wants revenge and is interested in the politics of the 1990s. The PTI workers and supporters should not waste their votes," said Bilawal, who remained foreign minister for the 16-month government of Shahbaz Sharif.

He said that he had asked Imran Khan not to indulge in politics of revenge but his style of politics led him to his current fate. Imran Khan has been in jail since August last year.

Bilawal further said he, his family members and the PPP workers faced political victimisation at the hands of the PML-N in the past. "I do not want to see any other party (PTI) go through the same. The PTI workers should support me so that I can bury this politics of personal vendetta," he said, recalling that his mother Benazir Bhutto had released all political prisoners when she became the prime minister.

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"After forming the government next month, I will establish a ‘Truth and Reconciliation’ commission to address the wounds of the provinces and the federation. The politics of hate, division, and distributing certificates of treason out of personal vengeance will be put to an end," Bilawal said.

"Pakistan is facing security challenges as terrorists are again gaining strength and my party will end terrorism from the country if it comes to power," he said.

Bilawal said his party will overcome economic crises and give jobs to the youth by implementing the party's ‘10-point agenda’.


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