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No long march for now: PPP spokesman

ISLAMABAD: Unlike the early nineties when the late former prime minister and PPP chairperson, Benazir Bhutto, marched twice on Islamabad at the head of huge processions of her party’s activists and supporters in an effort to get rid of the then PML-N government, this time round the Pakistan Peoples Party is not going to mount a long march to the capital but instead hold rallies and public meetings in various cities across the country, according to the party’s spokesman, Senator Farhatullah Babar.

“This time, long march [to Islamabad] will not be staged but many small protest rallies and public meetings will be held in different cities, including the federal capital,” he said on Thursday.

Mr Babar said that PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari would try to reach every protest rally or meeting to which he would be invited. The events would be organised by the party’s district or city chapters. He said the party’s leadership had already instructed all the PPP chapters to hold rallies and public meetings in their districts and cities.

When asked if a public meeting would be organised in Islamabad, Mr Babar said: “Definitely, the PPP’s capital city chapter will also hold a public meeting that will be addressed by Mr Bhutto-Zardari.”

On the occasion of the ninth death anniversary of his mother on Dec 27, Mr Bhutto-Zardari had announced that PPP would mount a long march in protest against the non-fulfilment of his four demands.

Another senior party leader, Senator Taj Haider, who has been tasked with monitoring the protest rallies and public meetings, described “the PPP’s long march programme” as a broad-based protest campaign that would continue till the last days of the PML-N government.

Asked if such a protest campaign would manage to create any grave problems for the government, Mr Haider said that even if it did not give a serious jolt to the ruling party it would at least mobilise the public against the rulers.

“If the government has no fear of Allah Almighty, it will not care for whatever the opposition is doing against it,” the senator said.

The PPP’s protest campaign would now go beyond Mr Bhutto-Zardari’s four demands, he said, as people from all segments of society and from every nook and corner of the country would lend support to it.

Mr Haider said the public was demanding that operations under the National Action Plan (NAP) against terrorists and militants should also be launched in Punjab but Minister of State for Interior Baleeghur Rehman had tried to protect the Punjab government when he told the Senate recently that the provincial government had taken action against the Chhotoo Gang.

“Taking action against a small group of criminals is the internal matter of police and not a pride for the whole provincial government,” he said.

The Punjab government was doing nothing against terrorists and extremists, the senator added.



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