RAWALPINDI, June 18: The City District Government Rawalpindi (CDGR) has parked its garbage-lifting trucks at Liaquat Bagh while PPP leaders and supporters alleged the move was a deliberate attempt to spoil the assassination site of the country’s two former prime ministers Liaquat Ali Khan and Benazir Bhutto.
Liaquat Bagh is a tell-tale park having historic significance. It witnessed the assassination of the two top most leaders of the country whose culprits were yet to be identified.
Pakistan’s first prime minister Liaquat Ali Khan was assassinated on October 16, 1951 while addressing a public meeting and former prime minister Benazir Bhutto was a martyr to an assassin’s bullets on December 27, 2007 while she was leaving the park after addressing a public meeting.After the assassination of Liaquat Ali Khan, the government constructed his memorial and renamed the Company Bagh to Liaquat Bagh and constructed a cultural hall named Liaquat Memorial Hall at the site.
Till the Musharraf’s era, the hall served the art lovers of twin cities under the control of Pakistan National Council of the Arts (PNCA). The memorial hall provided recreational facilities to the residents of the twin cities but after the establishment of National College of Arts (NCA) in the city, the hall was handed over to the college administration who failed to utilise it properly. In the meantime, main cultural events of the twin cities were shifted to the PNCA Auditorium in Sector F-5.
After the assassination of Benazir Bhutto (BB), the front gate of the memorial hall turned into the martyrdom site and PPP workers, supporters and leaders frequently visited it to offer prayers for the departed souls.
Interestingly, the CDGR shifted its parking area from Satellite Town near Community Hall to Liaquat Memorial Hall as the former place was being converted into a park on the instructions of local MNA belonging to PML-N, Hanif Abbasi.
The move created unrest among the PPP circles as its workers and supporters termed it political vendetta of the ruling party in Punjab. They criticised PML-N led Punjab government and said that Nawaz led PML-N was spoiling the memorial site.
PPP workers and former naib nazims Nasir Mir, Haji Sher Zaman and Jamil Qureshi came down hard on the CDGR and provincial government for turning BB’s memorial site into a truck stand.
They said the government should remove the garbage vehicles from the site as it would become an eyesore for the historical place. They said the workers were facing difficulties in making arrangements for the BB’s birthday on June 22.
“It seems that PML-N has no respect for our assassinated leader who served the country for two terms as prime minister and chairperson of the largest political party of the country,” said PPP Central Executive Council member Sultan Mehmood Qazi.
He said they (PML-N) had no respect for ‘original Muslim League’ leader Liaquat Ali Khan and PPP expected no good gesture from the Nawaz led Muslim League. He said that PPP wanted to construct the BB’s memorial at the site and had asked Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif for permission to use the land but he promised to form a committee to look into the matter. However, later the provincial government turned it into a parking place for the garbage trucks.
PPP City President Aamir Fida Paracha told Dawn the PPP city chapter took the matter before district coordination officer (DCO) and Wasa’s managing director for clearing the area of the garbage-lifting vehicles.
He said the CDGR had been warned to clear the area before June 21 as PPP workers and supporters would celebrate BB’s birthday at the place and had also arranged Quran Khawani and political gathering at the place.
DCO was not available for comments on the issue. However, a CDGR official requesting not to be named said it was searching for an alternative place to park its garbage-lifting vehicles and they were being parked at the site on temporary basis.