Bilawal urges youth to stay away from radical interpretation of Islam


United Nations : Pakistan People’s Party Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has fervently called on the Pakistani youth to stay away—as far as possible—from the radical interpretation of Islam and try and spread its message of peace.

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“The true interpretation of our religion is its message of peace,” he said in reply to a question at a crowded press conference that followed an impressive ceremony marking the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The ceremony took place in the gold-and-blue hall of the General Assembly which concluded with the presentation of 2008 UN Human Rights Prize to Shaheed Benazir Bhutto, a former Pakistan prime minister, and six other international personalities for their outstanding work in promoting human rights and fundamental freedoms.

Chairman Bilawal appeared with other recipients at the news conference where he faced questions from the UN corps of correspondents and Pakistani journalists. He fielded a series of questions—some pointed ones—with confidence. His answers were short and to the point.

Replying to a question, the PPP leader strongly defended the record of Ms. Bhutto, his mother, in the field of human rights. “She did every thing possible to promote human rights and fundamental freedoms,” he said. But her efforts were being undermined by rogue elements with the establishment. On her part, Ms. Bhutto did everything to put an end to the activities of those elements.

Chairman Bilawal also dispelled the impression that the PPP was

bequeathed to him and his father, saying a democratic process was followed before entrusting them the party’s leadership. It was a moment of chaos in the country in the aftermath of Ms. Bhutto’s assassination, he said, adding urgent steps were to required to calm the situation. The country faced great danger. The party’s stood united.

The Central Executive Committee voted and supported him and his father—the overriding consideration being that PPP supporters would exercise their democratic rights in the upcoming elections, rather than continue to protest as they were.

To another question, Chairman Bilawal said that a lot of work was needed in the field of human rights. A lot has already been done through the establishment of democracy, but there were still challenges ahead. At the moment, he said, Pakistan has been distracted by the economic crisis.

A correspondent asked Ramsey Clark, a former US attorney general and a rule of law advocate, who also received the award, about any advice he would give to Bilawal Bhutto Zardari. He said Bilalwal needed no advice from him, being the scion of a great family. “He should study hard, finish his formal education and then lead Pakistan to a peaceful, humane and peaceful future.”

At the start of the press conference, Chairman Bilawal read a prescient quotation from the autobiography his mother had written before her Dec. 2007 assassination. In the book she said she realized returning to her homeland could cost her life, but she did so because “democracy in Pakistan is not just important for Pakistanis it is important for the entire world.”