KARACHI: Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, the son of Pakistan’s assassinated premier Benazir Bhutto, on Saturday slammed the Taleban for trying to drag the country back to the “stone-age.”
Addressing a gathering during the closing ceremony of a two-week cultural festival in his home province of Sindh, Bhutto also urged the country to rise up against the threats.
“The Taleban want to impose the law of terror in the country, but I want to tell them, if you have to live in Pakistan you will have to follow its constitution,” he said.
“We don’t accept the law of terrorists” he added. “Some people are trying to bring back the stone-age era in the country in the name of Islam.”
The start of 2014 has seen a surge in militant violence with more than 130 people killed.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s government has been under fire from political opponents for failing to mount a strong response to the upsurge in attacks.
The government has for months said it favoured talks with the Taleban but 25-year-old Zardari has spoken in favour of military action against them.
Former premier Benazir Bhutto was assassinated in December 2007 by the Pakistani Taleban after leaving a campaign rally of her Pakistan People’s Party.
Her husband and Bilawal’s father Asif Ali Zardari was president from 2008-2013.
The Taleban’s demands include the nationwide imposition of Shariah law and an end to US drone strikes, conditions the government and army are unlikely to be able to meet.
“The terrorists should think of the time when the whole nation will stand against them,” Zardari added on Saturday in Makli, around 100 kilometres to the north of Karachi.
“We are Muslims and the terrorist groups should not try to teach us Islam.”
Nearly 7,000 people have been killed in the insurgency by the Tehreek-e-Taleban Pakistan (TTP) since it began in 2007, according to an AFP tally.
Stability in nuclear-armed Pakistan is seen as important to neighbouring Afghanistan, where US-led Nato troops are pulling out after more than a decade of war.
Washington has said it is watching the peace talks with the Taleban closely.
It has long been pushing Pakistan to take action against militants using Pakistan’s tribal areas as a base to attack Nato forces across the border.