Bilawal says democracy needed to counter extremism;

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WASHINGTON : Chairman PPP Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has said that at a time when violent extremism had become the single largest challenge to the world, genuine democracy alone offered the hope to fight the menace. Moderation vs extremism has become a major fault line in the battle of ideas and Pakistan was in the trenches in this battle of ideas, he said,

He said this while addressing as a special guest of honour invited to speak to a galaxy of international guests including US Congressmen, government officials, decision makers, corporate CEOs, Ambassadors, faith leaders, media, academia and civil society organizations in Washington on Wednesday.

Spokesperson Farhatullah Babar said that special tributes were also paid on the occasion to former Prime Minister Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto as video clips of her interviews were shown and warm introductory remarks about her by former Congressman Frank Wolf before inviting Bilawal Bhutto to the podium to address the gathering.

The international luncheon gathering is part of the National Prayer Breakfast events that takes place over three four days in Washington every year early February.

The spokesperson said that the event Wednesday began with opening prayers by Ambassador and former Governor Senator Sam Brownback of Kansas while Yulia Tymoshenko former Prime Minister of Ukraine made concluding remarks. Head of the World Food Program David Beasly also spoke on the occasion.

Today, terrorism, inequality, climate change, disorient the world, Bilawal said adding also “the borderless nature of the challenges we face today will force us to unite”. Let us not unite only when the crisis has caused incalculable loss, he said.

Let us use these trying times as a chance to reflect and re-evaluate our values. There is no other way out, Bilawal said.

We must recognise terrorism and extremism is not confined to the Muslim world, he said reminding the audience “School shooters in America, cow vigilantism in India and genocidal monks in Myanmar prove that extremism is not confined to one religion”.

In Pakistan there is growing public recoil from extremism. But for a transformative shift we need commitment and momentum in the battle of mind-set that we fight, the PPP chairman said. He said that violent extremism has severally imperilled the social and political equation of the region the less we talk constructively, the less we will understand how to tackle it.

Pakistan and America can do much good in bringing peace and stability to South and Central Asia. In order to achieve it we must invest in trust and building confidence, he said.

Bilawal urged the world not to return to the cold-war era of zero-sum binaries. We have fought one of the longest wars in the region together on the borders of Afghanistan. It is now high time to look towards winning the peace together, not against each other, he said.

Dilating upon causes of extremism he said that disenfranchised and frustrated youth are the most vulnerable targets of extremist organizations.

Quoting from a speech of his mother that said, “All the great teachers, Jesus, Moses, Abraham and the Prophet Mohamed (PBUH) tell us the same thing: that it is God’s purpose and plan that we live in peace, that we love Him and love one another, and to that end we seek reconciliation, which literally means “to live together again”,Bilawal said that her message and legacy will live on for as long as there is hope for good in this world.

Islam, Christianity and all religions have more in common that unites them than what divides them, he said. It is about time we focus on the former.

Over 1200 guests drawn from all over the world attended the event. Senators Akbar Khawaja and Saleem Mandviwalla also accompanied the Chairman PPP.

Orignally published by INP

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