INTERNATIONAL

Bilawal warns against flawed elections

Hasan Suroor

LONDON: Making his first public appearance outside Pakistan since being anointed leader of the Pakistan People’s Party last month following his mother, Benazir Bhutto’s assassination, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, on Tuesday warned that Pakistan could “disintegrate” if the upcoming parliamentary elections were not free and fair.

“I fear for my country. If elections are not free and fair it might disintegrate,” he said, clarifying that he would not be taking part in the election campaign and his first priority was to complete his studies.

A confident and self-assured Bilawal Bhutto, surrounded by his party’s minders, also had a message for U.S. President George W. Bush: stop supporting the Musharraf regime. Dictatorships bred “extremism” and the U.S. should stop supporting “dictators”, he said.

The 19-year-old Oxford University student questioned the independence of Pakistani police investigation into his mother’s murder and while thanking Britain for its assistance, he reiterated his party’s demand for an international inquiry under the auspices of the Untied Nations. “We do not believe that an investigation under the authority of the Pakistani government has the necessary transparency,” he said, adding that already much forensic evidence had been destroyed.

On India-Pakistan relations, he said his country would like to “co-exist” with all its neighbours.