BAHAWALPUR: Police on Saturday stopped the cavalcade of PPP chairperson Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari at Uch Sharif, about 70kms from here, when it was on its way to the shrine of Hazrat Jalaluddin Bukhari over “non-clearance of security”. However, later it was allowed to go.

According to PPP local leaders, as Mr Bilawal’s cavalcade was heading towards the shrine in Uch Sharif’s congested area, a police team stopped it. On asking the reason, a police official said the security clearance for the cavalcade had not been given.

At this, the PPP workers protested, while their chairman had to wait in his car for the security clearance.

PPP divisional coordinator Nawazish Ali Peerzada condemned the stopping of Mr Bilawal’s cavalcade.

However, the cavalcade was later allowed to go to shrine, where Mr Bilawal laid a Chaddar (sheet) and offered prayer. He mixed up with the devotees visiting the shrine.

Meanwhile, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) took notice of the stopping of Mr Bilawal’s cavalcade, a handout said.

ECP Secretary Babar Yaqoob contacted the Punjab chief secretary and the inspector general of police and sought a report on the incident and said all parties should be given an equal opportunity to run their election campaigns without any hindrance.

After visiting the shrine, Mr Bilawal and his cavalcade resumed their journey to the venue of the public meeting there.

District Police Officer Dr Muhammad Iqbal has said that the cavalcade of Mr Bilawal was halted for making security arrangements because the visit to the shrine was not in the schedule of the PPP leader’s visit.

He explained that the shrine was located in a congested area of Uch Sharif where there were no proper arrangements for light and this might have created security issues.

He added that after the security arrangements were made, the cavalcade was allowed to visit the shrine.

Later, addressing a public rally at Uch Sharif the PPP chairperson said if his party was voted to power, he would bring a revolution in the country for the welfare of the masses.

Mr Bilawal gave highlights of his party’s manifesto, saying it was a people-friendly manifesto aimed at turning Pakistan into an exploitation-free country where employment, justice and economic balances would be ensured for the common man. He said the PPP wanted to provide opportunities for progress and prosperity to all, without any discrimination.

He talked about his mother’s struggle for democracy and role of his father former president Asif Ali Zardari in this regard after Benazir Bhutto’s assassination.

He said Mr Zardari introduced a number of programmes aimed at people’s welfare.

Paying homage to his mother, Bilawal said her struggle was against the extremists and for the rights of the oppressed people of the country. He said the PPP was the only political party which worked for the poor farmers.

He asked the audience to support the PPP which, he said, would bring prosperity in the country and end exploitation. He said that he would not launch Metro buses and trains but instead provide facilities to the farming community.

He also highlighted the development in Sindh made during the PPP governments.

Published in Dawn, July 8th, 2018