KARACHI: A large number of Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) supporters packed Karachi's Bagh-i-Jinnah on Saturday in order to hear the young party chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, as he established his first direct contact with the masses.
The rally marks the seventh anniversary of the devastating bomb attack that hit Benazir Bhutto's homecoming parade in Karachi on October 18, 2007, killing 139 people in the deadliest single terror attack on Pakistani soil.
ZAB fulfilled Quad-i-Azam’s dream: Bilawal
Speaking at the rally in Karachi, PPP patron-in-chief Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said that Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah gave the present of Pakistan and Zulfikar Ali Bhutto fulfilled the former’s dream by giving Pakistanis the 1973 Constitution.
He said there were only two political forces existed in Pakistan, “one is Bhuttoism and another is offspring of dictatorship”.
Bilawal lashed out at the PTI and PAT, saying: “When the time came to stand up with the Army troops against Taliban, people holding anti-government protests in Islamabad sat down.”
He urged the protesters in Islamabad to leave the sit-in and help the IDPS to rehabilitate.
Bilawal said if there was dictatorship in Pakistan, those calling for civil disobedience in the federal capital would have been bombarded with F-16 jet.
“Those who want to scare us should understand that the word fear does not exist in our dictionary,” Bilawal said while referring to Taliban threats hurled at his party.
“There are foreign forces involved and want Pakistan to be destabilised like Iraq and Syria,” the PPP chairman said, adding that those forces wanted a civil war in Pakistan.
“Bhuttoism is the only solution to save Pakistan from civil war.”
Bilawal also assailed the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) calling Chief Minister Punjab, Shahbaz Sharif a creation of military dictator Gen Ziaul Haq. He held CM Shahbaz responsible for the Model Town tragedy.
The PPP patron-in-chief was also critical of Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), saying the party has been ruling Karachi for last more than 20 years without any progress to show.
He urged people of the port city to not lose hope, saying only Bhuttoism can change Karachi.
Paying tribute to Pakistan Army troops, the PPP chairman said the soldiers were fighting against the militants in tribal areas for the survival of the country.
Commenting on Indian criticism hurled at him, Bilawal said that the Kashmir issue would be decided in accordance to the wishes of Kashmiri people.
He also chanted the slogan “Kashmir banega Pakistan” (Kashmir will become Pakistan).
|– Screen grab shows Bilawal Bhutto Zardari speaking at the rally|
No force can stop Pakistan from progressing: Zardari
Speaking to participants of Karachi rally, former president and Co-Chairman PPP Asif Ali Zardari said that no force in the world can stop a modern and progressive Pakistan from being formed. “Benazir’s Pakistan, Bilawal’s Pakistan, yours and mine Pakistan is inevitable,” he said.
Zardari said PPP’s think tank has answers to all prevailing problems of the country. “We followed policy of reconciliation during our five-year tenure,” he added.
He vowed to provide cotton, wheat, sugar and solar tube wells at cheap prices to the masses.
The PPP co-chairman saluted the courage of rally participants for turning up in large numbers.
Upping the ante against Imran Khan’s PTI, Zardari said that a circus has been staged in Islamabad and televised live. “To collect donations is not our politics,” he added.
|– Screen grab shows Asif Ali Zardari speaking at the rally|
Future prime minister will be a Bhutto, says Gilani
Speaking at the public meeting, former PM Yousuf Raza Gilani said that today’s rally was bigger and better than his expectations. He said that people of all four provinces were united at the rally in Karachi today.
Gilani said Bilawal was a symbol of federation. “Future prime minister will be a Bhutto,” he added.
He urged the PPP patron-in-chief to reorganise the party and bring more young leaders in the mainstream. The former premier urged the protesting PTI to come forward and strengthen the Parliament.
PPP and Pakistan are interconnected: Pervez Ashraf
Former prime minister of Pakistan, Raja Pervez Ashraf said that Peoples Party and Pakistan were interconnected and cannot be separated. In an apparent reference to PTI rallies, he said: “Despite prevailing public rallies everywhere these days, we have no contest at all.”
“An elderly of PPP is stronger than youth of other parties,” he added.
Bilawal will complete ZAB’s mission: Khursheed Shah
Opposition Leader in the National Assembly, Syed Khursheed Shah on the occasion said that Bilawal Bhutto has taken charge of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s flag that he raised to bring democratic revolution in the country.
“Bilawal will bring a revolution for poor, farmers, labourers and the youth of the country,” he said.
Shah also lauded former president Asif Ali Zardari for the 18th Constitutional amendment and for provincial autonomy.
Jiyalas’ sacrifices would write ‘new history’: Qaim
Chief Minister Sindh, Syed Qaim Ali Shah said that PPP was party of young and poor and Jiylas’ sacrifices would write a new history of the country.
“This is a massive rally…no one would be able to count the number of people present at the moment,” he said.
Fehmida Mirza pays homage to martyrs of Karsaz tragedy
Former speaker National Assembly, Fehmida Mirza paid homage to martyrs of Karsaz tragedy and said there was no danger to democracy in the country as long as Jiyalas were present.
“Peoples Party is fighting for the survival of Pakistan,” she said.
PPP custodian of democracy, Constitution: Raza Rabbani
Speaking on the occasion, Senator Raza Rabbani said the PPP was the party that first raised the slogan of revolution, adding that the party does not side with any government. He said the PPP fights for democracy in the country to safeguard the Constitution.
“This is the place where Zulfikar Ali Bhutto raised the voice of rebellion against (former dictator) Ayub. Today, Bilawal will start from here a revolution against an outdated system,” said the senior PPP stalwart.
Aitzaz seeks induction of youth in PPP
Speaking at the rally, senior PPP leader Aitzaz Ahsan said that today’s rally was an important milestone for the party and vowed to bring the youth leadership in the forefront. “This party is a party of youth and women and we will now inject new blood in it.”
He urged Bilawal to make the youth an active part of the PPP.
Aitzaz Ahsan cricticised Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) for not shouting foul after victory of their backed independent candidate Amir Doogar in the Multan by-poll.
|– Screen grab shows Aitzaz Ahsan addressing the Karachi jalsa while Asif Ali Zardari waving at crowd|
|Bilawal arriving via helicopter to address the public meeting.—DawnNews screenshot|
Bilawal arrived at the rally by helicopter and was set to address the crowds from the same bullet and bomb-proof truck that his mother used for the ill-fated parade, which was meant to mark her triumphant return after nearly a decade of self-imposed exile.
Bilawal – the young scion of the powerful Bhutto family and son of former President Asif Ali Zardari – was accompanied by his aunt Sanam Bhutto, the only surviving sibling of slain former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto.
Charged supporters of PPP and Bilawal had poured into the venue from different parts of the province as well as from outside Sindh — PPP loyalists from Balochistan's Quetta, Khuzdar and other areas as well as from rural Sindh had arrived for the party chairman's first major public interaction.
|Bilawal, accompanied by his aunt Sanam Bhutto, waves to supporters at the Bagh-i-Jinnah.|
Worker dies at rally venue
Earlier, a PPP worker died of apparent natural causes at the venue of the political rally.
The worker, who had travelled to Karachi from Khand Kot area of Sindh, was unwell and had complained of stomach aches the previous night, his colleagues said. They said his condition did not seem to improve after he took medicine from a local pharmacy.
The worker passed away while he was at the Bagh-i-Jinnah, the venue of the scheduled rally. DawnNews reporter Syed Wasim witnessed the body and confirmed the death of the worker, whose body was later taken to a local hospital by ambulance.
Bilawal to address rally
Bilawal is scheduled to address the public meeting later today at the Bagh, situated adjacent to the mausoleum of Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah.
The over 35-acre ground can hold an estimated number of 350,000 people. Six standby generators have been arranged to ensure lighting in case of a power breakdown.
Twelve multimedia screens and over a thousand speakers have been installed.
Moreover, all vehicles are supposed to be parked two kilometres away from the meeting venue and most people were seen walking to the venue. There is a special enclosure for journalists.
Participants were passing through walk-through gates after undergoing thorough body search. The outer security was with the police and Rangers.
The meeting is aimed at energising the party's rank and file and in the words of Syed Ali Nawaz Shah, a founding member of the party, reaffirming the PPP's commitment to the federation.
More on this: The PPP jiyala: An existentialist history