Davos: Bilawal rejects Imran Khan’s allegations, rebuilds ties with West

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DAVOS: Pakistan’s newly-appointed Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari on Wednesday rejected claims by former prime minister Imran Khan that the United States had plotted his downfall.

Bilawal told Reuters that Khan’s ouster last month was in fact a milestone for Pakistani democracy.

“Pakistan has a history of prime ministers who have been removed undemocratically, unconstitutionally through various means,” Bilawal said in an interview on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in the Swiss Alpine resort of Davos.

“We’ve had a prime minister who was removed and hanged!” Bhutto Zardari said with reference to his grandfather, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, part of a family history repeatedly marked by violence as well as high office.

Bilawal was a 19-year-old studying at Oxford University when his mother Benazir Bhutto was assassinated. His father Asif Ali Zardari was also president of Pakistan.

At just 33, he is hoping to appeal to his country’s young population and step into the shoes of a political dynasty. As the leader of his mother’s Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), he said will run in the next elections and seek to form a government.

For the moment, he says he is focused on Pakistan’s foreign policy challenges around the world.

While Davos has been dominated by fears around trade blocs and more siloed nations, Bilawal said multilateral cooperation with neighbouring countries and the West is the way forward for Pakistan.

That has opened his government to attacks from Khan and his supporters. Khan accuses Washington of conspiring with his political opposition to oust him because of his independent foreign policy, which included a trip to Moscow to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Washington denies Khan’s allegation, which has also been dismissed by Pakistan’s powerful military.

“He’s doing whatever he can to adopt maximalist extremist positions, whip up anti-American sentiment and draw parallels to the Taliban’s struggle in Afghanistan to undermine this space for this democratic transition,” Bilawal said.