RAWALPINDI, April 23: PPP candidates are struggling hard to run their election campaigns in the garrison city. While they are holding corner meetings and running a door-to-door campaign, they have no plans to hold a public meeting in Liaquat Bagh.
It was here in this historic location, where during the last countrywide election campaign, party leader Benazir Bhutto was assassinated on December 27, 2007 in a gun and bomb attack.
The party fears that the Liaquat Bagh maybe an unsuitable venue, as fledging party popularity may not draw a crowd. Instead, they have decided to invite party heavyweights like Raja Pervaiz Ashraf, Qamar Zaman Kaira and Manzoor Wattoo to address news conferences in order to highlight the party’s work for people in the last five years.
A senior party leader told Dawn that the party would organise public meetings in the city, which has four National Assembly constituencies’ seats.
For NA-55, the public meeting took place in Banni Chowk, which intersects in the middle of PP-11 and PP-12; in NA-56, a public meeting took place in the commercial area; for NA-54, a public meeting is to be arranged at Tench Bhatta, and for NA-52, a public meeting will be arranged at Garibabad.
He added that the party had launched new candidates, yet they were facing difficulty in attracting voters “In 2008 elections, PPPP Jaffar Hussain Shah obtained 16,787 votes in NA-52 whereas PML-N’s Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan won with 54,000 votes.
Zamarud Khan received 33,749 votes from NA-54 and PML-N Malik Abrar got 58,228 votes.
Party candidate Aamir Fida Paracha managed to secure 37,397 votes in NA-55, while PML-N’s Javed Hashmi received 76,980 votes. Sardar Shaukat Hayat managed to receive 22,700 votes from NA-56 and PML-N Hanif Abbasi bagged 73,433 votes despite the sympathy wave for PPP after the assassination of its chairperson Benazir Bhutto,” he said.He noted that the atmosphere was not favourable for the PPP after it had failed to address the problems of its party workers or address energy crisis during its years in government.
In fear of low public presence, he said that the party was avoiding a public meeting at Liaquat Bagh.
“For Raja Pervaiz Ashraf or other leaders, the party workers and supporters will not come at Liaquat Bagh,” he said.When contacted, PPP City President Aamir Fida Paracha said that the party had not decided to hold a public meeting at its historic location.
“I have contacted divisional coordinator Raja Pervaiz Ashraf and he will give the schedule for public meetings soon,” he added.
“Liaquat Bagh Jalsa is supposed to be the big show with the presence of over hundreds of thousands of people, but mostly people are attracted by the presence of party leader,” he said.