'Firm Believer In Freedom of Speech' Bilawal Schools Imran's Lobbyist In New York

'Firm Believer In Freedom of Speech' Bilawal Schools Imran's Lobbyist In New York
Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari recently tore into a 'question' posed by a lobbyist on the payroll of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan at the Naw York-based Council on Foreign Relations.

Public Relations (PR) man David Felton questioned Bilawal about the "catastrophe" of democracy, media censorship and paucity of rights in the tenure of the ruling coalition. The Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) chairman delivered a comprehensive lesson in history after. “Pakistan is not just a democracy in crisis right now. Pakistan’s struggle for democracy did not start a few months ago when Mr. (Imran) Khan lost power." Various political parties and rights activists have been struggling for democracy and civilian supremacy in Pakistan for decades now, the foreign minister said.  “We saw a fundamental shift in the right direction after the unfortunate assassination of my mother in 2007 where Pakistan made fundamental democratic reforms, constitutional reforms, restored our 1973 Constitution, devolved power from all powerful presidents and individuals to parliament and to more importantly, the provinces.”

The FM further explained that progress had been made as there had been media freedom, the institutional and normative functioning of democracy. “From 2008-13 with PPP in power there was not one political prisoner, media freedom was at its height, there was nothing the media could say that we could undermine… and we had one democratically elected government transition to the other,” Bilawal said.

He spoke candidly about how the powers that be never wanted democracy in Pakistan, that have never wanted this transition, worked consistently to undermine and reverse this progress and what Imran Khan’s role had been. “Mr. Khan was the perfect symbol, perfect individual to take this mission forward to reverse the progresses we had made,” the foreign minister said, noting how intentional condemnation had poured in the way the 2018 general elections were conducted.

Bilawal went on to dwell on how attacks had been conducted not just on politicians. Their families were taken as political prisoners, democratic institutions had been undermined and journalists were targeted after Khan rose to power in 2018.  “I absolutely don’t believe that any channel should ever be banned...I am a firm believer in freedom of speech and could never support a channel being banned or a journalist being arrested no matter how outrageous,” the foreign minister said.

See the footage here: