Islamabad: Barred from hitting the campaign trail because of security threats, Pakistan People`s Party chief Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has lashed out at political opponents for sheltering terrorists and called on people to use the upcoming polls to defeat the mindset that fosters militancy and extremism.
"If you want to live, then you have to fight against this mindset which is the enemy of our prosperity," Bilawal said in a video message yesterday released as part of Pakistan People`s Party`s election campaign.
We have to defeat those who tortured women in Swat? who bombed our mosques who wanted to keep our innocent girls like Malala (Yusufzai) away from schools," he said.
Referring to the political opponents, the 24-year-old PPP "patron-in-chief" said: "Today they claim to be a political party; we have to defeat those who provide shelter to terrorists to get their votes and also call themselves saints.
"Threats from the Taliban have prevented the PPP from fielding Bilawal for its campaign for the May 11 general election," party officials said.
Bilawal`s father, President Asif Ali Zardari, too is unable to campaign for the party as the judiciary has barred him from playing a role in politics.
PPP leaders said the party`s election campaign had formally begun with the release of Bilawal`s video message, which has been posted on video-sharing websites and sent to all the four provinces.
However, the absence of the PPP`s top leaders from the campaign trail has hit the party at a time when its opponents like the PML-N and Imran Khan`s Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf are organising large rallies to mobilise voters.
In the video message, Bilawal expressed regret at his inability to address rallies and meetings, saying the PPP was at "war" with the mindset that supports militancy and extremism.
He said the "murderers" of his grandfather Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto and mother Benazir Bhutto "now want to eliminate us as well".
"I wanted to contest polls living amongst you; I wanted to launch the election campaign in the streets of my country alongside my workers... I don`t care for my life the world knows that the PPP has laid lives for democracy and, Inshallah (God willing) one day I will also lead the election campaign of PPP...," he said.
"Until that time I am assisting my elders in the campaign but not leading it," said Bilawal, who will be eligible to contest elections when he turns 25 in September.
Media reports said the Interior Ministry had advised
Bilawal and other PPP leaders to avoid appearing in public because of security concerns.
The PPP had initially planned to kick off its campaign with a rally to be addressed by Bilawal at Multan in Punjab.
An unnamed official of the Interior Ministry told the Dawn that intelligence agencies had received information that Bilawal and leaders of other political parties like the PML-N and Awami National Party could be attacked during the election campaign.
In his appeal to the voters, Bilawal described the PPP as "the life of the country the hope of the poor the voice of labour and the future of the new generation".
He said there are "some forces" that want to divide people but the PPP is the party that unites them.
"We have to continue this journey of democracy as it is a journey of hope? independence prosperity of the poor and rights of the working class.
This is the journey of Pakistan`s prosperity and it will continue till we reach our destination when there will be no fear and terror," he said.
In an apparent reference to the judiciary, which has been accused of hounding the PPP, Bilawal said, "Today hindrances are being created in our way because we don`t have any friends sitting in higher institutions who can also give us stay orders like others."