Translation of the transcript of Chairman PPP Bilawal Bhutto Zardari’s media talk outside parliament building
When court has ordered that Parliament should take up this issue then we should also adopt parliamentary procedure and I told the government that if they need the support of PPP then they have to adopt parliamentary procedure. Politics is the art of the possible. In democracy we fight in democratic way for our space and our parliamentary norms. I think that if this bill, without circulating among member, without going to Defence Committee was passed then it would have not been good neither for our institution of parliament nor for the institution of Army. Today we have been told that the bill will be presented in Defence Committee. I think that this is a small success for our parliament, for our democratic system and for our parliamentary norms. I do not know what the haste from the government was and I still do have some confusion that what is the government stance. We have crated a consensus by adopting National assembly procedure. The government has gone for review as well. On the face of it, it looks like a contradiction. When this process is completed in the parliament then that contradiction will also go away but I want to strongly emphasize on one thing that the political prties of the country, whether in government or opposition if do not respect this parliament then no one will respect it. If important bill are passed without parliamentary procedures then there will be no space left for future politicians. The government should have taken this step before but today the defence committee is meeting and we are looking at that.
Question: are you ready to give extension to Army chief? How will you face criticism on social media?
Ans: I have not seen criticism on social media. You think tht it is a small success and you might be correct in your own view. I know that this is a reality and the environment of the parliament and there are more powerful opposition parties and have announced unconditional support and that too which is not following parliamentary process and I cannot bring any change with all the efforts. Whatever I could have contributed in a democratic way was this. Probably for you it is not a big achievement but for us who are fighting and struggling for this for the last three generations. I know that you take two steps forward and one step back, we know that if we do not fight and take this space, if we accept that Defence Committee does not involve in this, then tomorrow your law committee will not involve tomorrow your Human Rights Committee will also not involve. When the largest party in opposition and government unite then they will take this step and there will be no hurdle before them. Today we think that this is our achievement that we have forced them to adopt parliamentary procedure. I think that parliamentary procedure is essential for not only for our institution of parliament but also for the institution for which we are carrying out this legislation. This is the responsibility of politicians that we realise the sensitivities. Our responsibility is that we take them by their hands and guide them through parliamentary process and parliamentary democratic and legal process be adopted so that no one can blame parliament.
Answer. I have just now put before you our stance clearly that our support is only possible when parliamentary procedure is adopted. Now as it is being said that parliamentary procedure will be adopted then our support will also be there. When the defence committee will sit then detailed discussion will be held as well.
Question: the standing committee whether just look at this bill or could it do some serious amendments as well with your 52 seats or this will be passed as the draft bill of the government. Will this bill be forwarded like it is now?
Answer: The committee will discuss that bill and now you can see for yourself the parliamentary representation in that committee. And we are in the same realities.
Question: now the discussion is only for parliamentary process. Do you think that the extension is correct decision?
Answer: In the past PPP had taken such step according to the situation at that time. Now taday the government and the prime minister think that they should take this step. Our emphasis and demand to them that you have to adopt parliamentary and democratic forum. You have to adopt democratic way and cannot do in non-democratic way. If you adopt democratic way then it will be better for government parliament and for the institution of army. As I said that if government and PML-N have announced unconditional support then PPP cannot change a coma or full stop. Despite all that as politics is the art of possible and what is possible we are doing for this parliament and the system.
Question: PPP said that there is no need of haste but today the committee is meeting and tomorrow the bill will be presented in NA session and is this not haste? And the suggestion by supreme court will also be decided in this bill?
Answer: I am sure if Supreme court has given some instruction those will be in it and committee will bring these obn this stage. Yes it is haste. My emphasis was on parliamentary procedure and it would have been better to follow parliamentary procedure but government is in haste and government can pass this bill without us as well. They could pass this bill without sending to parliamentary committee and I did what I could have done.
Question: after this bill another bill regarding accountability has to come whether you will support that as this one and
Answer: I can answer one question at a time not ten. As far as accountability process is concerned and the way NAB is acting from the first day, PPP has a consistent policy that NAB is a black law, that NAB is an institution established by a dictator that NAB and accountability cannot go together. When you say that we will support government then it is wrong presentation because government is coming to our narrative. When government has issued this ordinance and businessmen and bureaucracy has been kept out of NAB’s ambit then it means that government is accepting that NAB and government cannot run together. \it is also apparent to you all that government wants NAB to conduct political victimisation that NAB’s job should be only to pickup opposition representatives and investigate them. Not for judiciary, not for army, not for government, not for businessmen and bureaucracy but only for opposition so PPP cannot support. But we have hope that we can reach a compromise and we can bring some amendments in NAB. Wharever amendment we will bring insha Allah will be for improvement but I think that they will not be enough. As long as we do not close this NAB which is an undemocratic institution established for political victimisation and which cannot deal with corruption. As long as we do not introduce a new system which is for all and no one can raise a finger against it, only then we can confront corruption. As long as we do not do this corruption cannot be eliminated.
Question: PML-N had the stance that army chief as a government emplyee should go home after completing his tenure but now they have changed their stance. Was PPP not surprised?
Answer: I do not know whether this was PML-N stance or not. PPP has always been for employment and extension and we have fought for this in courts for extension of bureaucrats and courts have iven verdicts against us but now law is being made.
Question: will PPP give any suggestion for the bill?
Answer: I just found out before coming here that they are calling a meeting of Defence committee, but i will believe it when notification is issued. In that defence committee Sherry Rehman, Aftab Mirani who has been a defence minister as well, Khursheed Jonejo and other parties’ members as well and I am sure they will positively contribute.