LAKKI MARWAT - Pakistan People’s Party Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has called for drastic changes in curricula to rid the country of extremism and terrorism.

“Extremism is the root cause of terrorism, which can be rooted out by promoting social justice and tolerance in the society coupled with economic stability and drastic changes in curricula,” he said, addressing a big public gathering at Sports Complex in Bannu.

The PPP had arranged the mammoth meeting to show its power in the southern district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa which is considered the stronghold of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-F. PPP Central Executive Committee member Anwar Saifullah Khan, provincial president Humayun Khan and former provincial minister Sher Azam Wazir also spoke on this occasion.

“We believe the menace of terrorism cannot be eliminated only with the use of power. Extremism is like an epidemic which flourished during dictatorial regimes and caused the spread of terrorism and militancy in the country,” Bilawal said.

He acknowledged the people of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa had been bravely facing terrorism during the last four decades. “The valley of fragrance and Gandhara civilisation is in a state of war which has destroyed our generations,” he said.

Bilawal said: “Coward terrorists are attacking our children, women and elders, but we cannot leave our future generations at their mercy anymore.” He termed the implementation of the rule of law, stopping violation of human rights, enforced disappearances and target killings a prerequisite to wipe out the menace of terrorism from the country.

The PPP chairman said the country needed the courts which could deliver speedy justice and police and institutions that could be trusted by the people. He appreciated the police for fighting terrorism bravely and said the police force had played a frontline role in the war on terror and there was a need to further strengthen it.

“After 2008 elections, terrorists occupied Swat and Malakand regions, but the PPP government launched a military operation and regained the areas with the support of the nation. Our government restored peace and rehabilitated internally displaced families in Swat and Malakand within three months,” he said.

The PPP chief said around 82,000 families were displaced as a result of the operation Zarb-e-Azb launched after the army public school attack, but the PML-N and PTI governments left them helpless and did nothing for their rehabilitation.

He termed PTI chief Imran Khan the brother of Taliban and a big liar, saying Khan was deceiving the people of other provinces through false slogans of restoring peace, ending corruption, enrolling all children in schools and giving people access to free healthcare in KP. “Imran Khan has only taken U-turns and lied to the nation during his political career. If a competition of liars takes place, Imran will get the biggest crown for lying,” he said.

He asked the people to tell him what the PTI government had done for their betterment and for making a new KP. “Tell me if you have seen any change or end to corruption, one billion trees, poverty alleviation and reforms in the police system during the last five years,” he asked, saying those who could not set up a new university or hospital in Bannu cannot make a new Pakistan.

“The PTI-led government could not set up a new university or a hospital during its five-year tenure; rather it provided Rs 570 million from its education budget to a religious seminary,” he said and took the credit of establishing new colleges and universities and inaugurating five hospitals equipped with modern healthcare facilities in Sindh during the last eight months.

“Had the people, especially youth, been given jobs and access to health and education in KP, they would not have gone to Karachi and other parts of the country for these facilities,” he contended.

The PPP leader said his party’s government had initiated a programme in Sindh to give interest-free loans to the youth at union-council level, enabling them to do their own business. “Around six million families are beneficiaries of the programme which aim to alleviate poverty and it will be extended to KP and the rest of the country if PPP is voted to power in the upcoming elections,” he said.

He alleged the PML-N government wanted to limit political and financial autonomy of provinces by amending the historic 18th Amendment and through the National Finance Commission Award. He said the PPP government laid the foundation of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor to uplift terrorism-hit parts of the country. “But, the PML-N government ignored Balochistan and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa in the CPEC and shifted the benefits of the project to Lahore,” he claimed. He said the people had seen the real faces of PTI and PML-N leaders and they would take avenge with their vote in the upcoming elections.