HYDERABAD: Former Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani on Monday said his sacrifice of premiership strengthened state institutions as the Supreme Court also recognised immunity to the president.
“I believe that my sacrifice did not go in vain,” Gilani said referring to the recent letter written by the government to the Swiss Court, which mentioned immunity to the president in accordance with the constitution and was also approved by the Supreme Court.
Gilani said his decision to remain steadfast and stick to his point of presidential immunity was a source of satisfaction for him.
The former premier was addressing a public gathering of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), as part of its drive to connect with masses and to support the newly passed Sindh People’s Local Government Ordinance (SPLGO), in Hyderabad - the second largest city of the Sindh province.
Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Qamar Zaman Kaira, Commerce Minister Makhdoom Amin Fahim, Minister for Political Affairs Maula Bakhsh Chandio, Defence Minister Syed Naveed Qamar joined the former prime minister at the stage.
Chief Minister Sindh Syed Qaim Ali Shah, Sindh Information Minister Sharjeel Memon, Provincial Minister for Local Government Agha Siraj Durrani, Speaker Sindh Assembly Nisar Khoro and a large number of women parliamentarians were also present on the occasion.
All the leaders instead of sitting on chairs, sat down on mat spread over the stage, thus giving a humble message of expressing solidarity with the audience comprising common people.
The large gathering of people - men and women, old and young, closely packed the vast arena up to its boundaries. The enthusiasts from other parts of the country and adjoining areas especially travelled in form of caravans to attend the public event. The tri-color party flags fluttered and the placards with pictures of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and Benazir Bhutto took dominance of the scene.
Gilani, with traditional Sindhi Ajrak shawl dropped over his shoulders, waved to the people who cheerfully responded to him by chanting slogans of “Jiye Bhutto” and “Zinda hai BB zinda hai.”
He said he had come to meet the people of Sindh that is the land of great saints Shahbaz Qalandar and Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai, founder of Pakistan Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah and the Bhuttos.
Gilani said the ideology of Bhuttos could not be eliminated from the minds and hearts of people despite attempts by several dictators, adding with sacrifice of their lives, they upheld the cause of fighting for the rights of poor and women.
The former PM said those who thought that Sindh could be divided with new local government bill are living in fool’s paradise. He stressed that in presence of ‘Jiyalas’ - the PPP diehards, it was out of question.
He said the provincial autonomy and rights had been delegated to the provinces and it was now up to them to decide.
Gilani said the PPP was a democratic party and would not enforce any law ignoring the mandate given by the masses.
He stressed providing rights to the people and mentioned that had this principle be followed in past, there would have no Dhaka fall.
Gilani recalled that he had attended a public gathering along with Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto at the same venue. He cherished the moments when the people awaited Benazir to come into power so as to bring change in their lives.
The PPP leader said restoration of the 1973 constitution to its original form was a great achievement of his government. He said the PPP government during his tenure introduced Benazir Income Support Program and also reinstated the regular employees who had been sacked by the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) government.
Gilani criticised Chief Minister Punjab Shahbaz Sharif, who wrongly perceived the fictional character ‘Ali Baba and 40 thieves’ and was comparing it with the government. He said Ali Baba in fact was a pious man who had apprehended the thieves.
Speaking on the occasion, Chief Minister Sindh Syed Qaim Ali Shah said the power of masses always supported the Bhuttos due to their vision for the uplift of common man. He said today's mammoth rally in support of new local bodies bill reflected the success of the PPP’s vision.
He criticized PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif for trying to misguide people through his statement that the new bill would result into division of Sindh. He said the bill will instead protect the rights of common man.
Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Qamar Zaman Kaira, in response to criticism by the opposition over the performance of the PPP-led coalition government, said the government had braved several challenges since it assumed power in 2008. He mentioned that war on terrorism, constitutional anomalies and shortage of wheat and food were the biggest problems which were amicably resolved.
He said National Finance Commission Award and empowerment of provinces were other milestones.
Kaira said the by-election in Punjab, Sindh, Kashmir and Gilgit Baltistan were won by the PPP which was a manifestation of its popularity among masses.