After returning from an 18-month-long self-imposed exile, former president and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Co-Chairman Asif Zardari announced that both he and his son, the party chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, will contest elections and be a part of “this Parliament”.
He made this announcement while addressing a charged crowd of PPP supporters as the party observes the 9th death anniversary of Benazir Bhutto in Garhi Khuda Bakhsh near Larkana.
The Bhutto family mausoleum in Garhi Khuda Bakhsh.
The PPP co-chairman said he will contest elections from Nawabshah in place of his sister Faryal Talpur, adding that Bilawal Bhutto Zardari will contest from Larkana in place of Ayaz Soomro.
“We have sacrificed for the sake of democracy and politics, to save Pakistan… We will not leave this Mughal emperor to rule,” he added.
“Mian Nawaz Sharif Sahab we gave you this democracy as a sacred trust. We made every decision with you. We made decisions in the Parliament through consensus. It is a pity that you seem to have forgotten all your promises today,” the former president said.
Zardari accused the prime minister of “changing the Constitution”. He demanded that the Supreme Court decision on Panamagate be brought to the floor of the Parliament and be vetted by all political parties.
We want you and your judges to go down in history as respectable individuals, not as people who twist the law for their own gains, he added.
“This is our right. We will protest, exercise our democratic right and go to the parliament. Go to the courts and the bar councils, and talk about what is happening and should be happening,” Zardari said.
The former president arrived at the venue via helicopter.
This was Zardari’s first major appearance alongside his son and party chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari at a rally in three years.
“Millions of people die every year but the vision, the ideology and the courage of some people endures,” he said.
“Bibi said you can exile a man but not an idea. You can imprison a man but not an idea. You can kill a man but not an idea,” the PPP charman said, adding the vision of Benazir Bhutto is even more valuable now than it was in the past.
“The interior minister is threatening people instead of resigning,” he said, accusing Minister of Interior Chaudhry Nisar of meeting with people from banned outfits.
“The world wants to call us a terrorist state. People in your cabinet facilitate terrorists,” Bilawal alleged.
“If something were to happen tomorrow, you will run away but the 20 crore people of Pakistan will stay here,” he added.
“Do you think it is that simple? So you think we are idiots? Your entire government is full of scandals,” the PPP chairman alleged, saying his party will protest if the Panama Scandal bill is not passed in the National Assembly.
“On the one hand, you want to present yourself in front of the accountability bureau but on the other hand, you continue to obstruct the Panama bill in the National Assembly,” Bilawal said.
“We have used only 20 per cent of our resources because there is no democracy in this economy,” Bilawal added.
“The courts have never done justice for us. Lets see if they do it for the people of Pakistan,” the PPP chairman said, adding that he wants democratic accountability.
“My parents have taught me to respect my elders. But that does not mean we cannot disagree on our politics,” Bilawal said, adding he will not stay quiet when he sees the federation fall apart because of the government’s ineffective policies.
The PPP’s ‘long march’
PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari had vowed on several occasions that the party would launch a long march on Dec 27 if the government fails to meet the PPP’s four demands.
PPP supporters have arrived at Garhi Khuda Buksh for the anniversary event.
The party’s four demands include passage of the draft Panama bill, immediate appointment of a permanent foreign minister, reconstitution of the parliamentary committee on national security and implementation of the resolution on the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor passed by a multiparty conference.
Bilawal had said that while his party had been pressuring the government in a soft and democratic way to accept the demands, he warned that the PPP would take to the streets and launch a campaign for early elections if the demands were not met.
Anticipation was high through the day as workers arrived in the dusty village from different parts of the country. Reception camps were set up in Larkana and adjoining towns and participants were welcomed with party songs played at full volume.
Preparations for the event are complete.
Tricolour party flags, banners and life-size portraits of Benazir Bhutto, Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari and Asif Ali Zardari adorn the venue of the public meeting as well as the route to the pindal.
Parking areas for the participants’ vehicles have been set up at a distance of about a kilometre from the mausoleum.
Party leaders arrive in processions
Party leaders Safdar Abbasi, Haji Munawwar Ali Abbasi, Ms Naheed Khan and others arrived at the mausoleum in a large procession after conclusion of a workers convention in nearby Waleed village.
Amid loud slogans, they laid floral wreaths on the graves of Z.A. Bhutto, Benazir Bhutto and other members of Bhutto family and offered fateha.
Workers express their excitement ahead the PPP’s event.
“We are here to pay homage to Benazir Bhutto who laid down her life for the sake of democracy and supremacy of law in the country but never compromised her principles,” Dr Safdar Abbasi and Ms Naheed Khan said.
They added that Benazir Bhutto had strengthened the party with her 30 years’ struggle but, thanks to Zardari, the party had now been confined to Sindh only.
They said that party workers were dejected and the party itself was gradually losing popularity in Sindh.
Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah, along with his cabinet members, arrived at the Bhuttos’ mausoleum and held a meeting with party leaders and acting Sindh police chief Mushtaq Mahar to review security arrangements.
Meanwhile, PPP provincial chief Nisar Ahmed Khuhro held a meeting with the mazar committee to finalise arrangements for the anniversary.
courtesy : Dawn News