ISLAMABAD, April 23: As the government advised Bilawal Bhutto Zardari to avoid appearing in public because of security concerns, the PPP chairman launched his party’s election campaign on Tuesday in a new style, through a hard-hitting video message.
Bilawal Bhutto regretted the government’s advice and said it was obstructing his party’s election campaign.
Sources said the PPP chairman wanted to launch the campaign from Multan last Sunday with an address at a public meeting. But security departments said he should desist from appearing in public because of a serious threat he was facing.
When contacted, a senior official of the Ministry of Interior dealing with matters of security said intelligence agencies had received information that Bilawal Bhutto and leaders of some other parties could be attacked during their campaigns.
“Instructions have been issued from the interior ministry not only for Bilawal Bhutto but also for the heads of some other mainstream political parties — including the PML-N, Awami National Party and former president retired General Pervez Musharraf,” he said.
Several bomb blasts have taken place recently in Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa during election rallies of different political parties. Also, a car carrying heavy explosives was taken into custody by police from near Gen Musharraf’s farmhouse in Chak Shahzad, Islamabad on Tuesday.
The PPP chairman said in his video message that he was aware that his life was in danger because the elements who had assassinated his mother Benazir Bhutto on Dec 27, 2007 in Rawalpindi during the party’s election campaign, were after him.
“The murderers of Quaid-i-Awam and BB Shaheed now want to eliminate us as well (but) I don’t care for my life. The world knows that the PPP has laid down lives for democracy,” he said.
There were clear indications in the message that he had been barred from launching PPP’s elections campaign. He said: “I wanted to lead the campaign along with you; I wanted to launch the election campaign in the streets of my country alongside my workers. I know that Janisars of BB Shaheed are waiting anxiously for me, but we are at war against this mindset.”
He said once again the enemies of peace and prosperity were targeting the PPP. “They belong to a specific mindset. PPP has fought against this mindset over the past five years and continues to fight it.
“We have to continue this journey of democracy till we reach our destination, when there will be no fear and terror. But, today obstructions are being created in our way because we don’t have any friends sitting in higher institutions who can issue stay orders as in case of others.”
He said: “We are being attacked, corpses are being taken from our houses because we are not Zia’s remnants whose houses are being protected and with whom deals are being signed.”
Criticising the policies of the PML-N’s previous government in Punjab, the PPP chairman asked where were those people who claimed to have created a paradise (rivers of milk and honey) in Punjab. “Can’t they see development and prosperity of people of south Punjab,” he said.
Responding to allegations of bad governance and corruption levelled by Nawaz Sharif against his father, President Asif Ali Zardari, he said: “Can’t they see the people of South Punjab who are facing hardships because of lack of basic amenities and have to walk several miles just to get clean water? Can’t they see millions of teenagers who work in workshops? The people are dying of hunger and poverty and you are doing politics on Sasti Roti scheme. You had time to do politics on the metro bus scheme worth Rs70 billion but forgot the poor people of Punjab. You ended up establishing Danish Schools instead of providing education to the youth of Pakistan. You don’t care for the masses, you don’t know what the public wants. You don’t know what is poverty and labour.”
He said if the PML-N leaders wanted to know what is meant by service to humanity, they should see the Benazir Income Support Programme which had given rights to women of Pakistan.
“Dramatisation of issues is not service to the people,”
Concluding his message, Bilawal Bhutto recalled facilities and opportunities provided by the PPP to the people of Sindh and said they had provided the highest number of jobs to its youths, initiated projects to end unemployment and protected the rights of the province. “We have given the powers to Sindh never given before.”