Pakistan Peoples Party on Friday celebrated 51 years of "struggle and sacrifices" on its foundation day. A grand ceremony was held in Sukkur where thousands of loyal supporters gathered to pay tribute to the party and its top leadership.
Former president Asif Ali Zardari, Khursheed Shah, Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah, Qamar Zaman Kaira, Aitzaz Ahsan, Nisar Khuro addressed the supporters. They spoke about the journey and evolution of the party over the years. Each sought to remind people that the PPP remains the only party with solutions to the problems Pakistan is faced with.
PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari spoke at the event and highlighted the "continued fight against non-democratic forces" that has always been part and parcel of PPP's journey.
He spoke about how religion was being infused with politics and how that remained the foremost challenge that Pakistan is up against. "Despite the fact that a democratic political system is a society-wide matter, history stands witness to the fact that when dictators sought to give some form or shape to their fake politics, they used religion to advance their agenda," said Bilawal.
"The repercussions of this are being borne by everyone even today. Today the whole country is burning in a fire that was set by these dictators.
"When politics gained ground in the name of religion, religious terrorism was born. And Islam which is a religion of security, of progress, of peace.. this great religion's name was smeared due to terrorism.
"The conditions faced by the country today demand that we return to Zulfikar Bhutto's philosophies and attempt to understand the fundamental values of the PPP and save Pakistan from the fire that was set "by our own and has reached every doorstep".
"That fire is the fire of extremism, terrorism, and intolerance which has engulfed the entire society. We have to extinguish these flames. We have to save Pakistan. We have to fulfil the promise made by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and Benazir Bhutto," he declared.
In the same breath, he said that the "current government" will not be able save Pakistan because it does not own up to the issues that stand before them.
"We will not be able to extinguish these flames until our prime minister does not consider extremism and terrorism his personal mission. You tell me, when on Martyrs Day the premier stands before the heirs of the martyred and says 'this war is not our war' then one can only imagine what the families must have gone through," the PPP chairman said in a stark rebuke of the prime minister.
"Khan sahab I ask you this: What was their sacrifice for? Did they not fight this war to protect Pakistan and ensure its safety?"
The party chief then proceeded to again remind the audience that PPP's struggle throughout its history has always been against powers that seek to bring down democracy.
"You know very well that PPP's fight has always been against non-democratic forces and the 'political ladlas' (blue-eyed boys) that have been pampered under the patronage of such forces. First, we were fighting against one ladla and now another has stepped onto the battleground. But this is an 'anokha ladla' (rare favourite) who when wanted the moon to play with, was given the whole country. The games he is playing today will lead to consequences no different from those brought about by ladlas of the past.
"This ladla steals first and then also thumps his chest to show off. He says one thing in the morning and another at night, only to turn his back against both later. He takes U-turns upon U-turns and then says 'without U-turns there can be no leadership,'" Bilawal continued in criticism of the prime minister.
He said that people's faith had never before plummeted the way it had this time around when even before 100 days were up, people were fed up with "Naya Pakistan's doings".
"[The burden of] inflation has broken the backs of people. There is a shortage of gas, electricity, power. Unemployed youth are disappointed with life itself. Economic murder of farmers is being committed. There is no sign of the economy recovering. And this government refuses to get down from containers," he said lambasting the government's performance thus far.
"They [the PTI government] took refuge in accountability to further their politics of revenge. They defamed their political opponents and then shut down the accountability commission in KP. Billion-tree tsunami corruption and Peshawar Metro corruption files were closed. Those faced with legal cases were made ministers.
"They talked about bringing a revolution in 100 days. Now 100 days have passed but nothing has been done regarding South Punjab," he pointed out.
He said that the promise "had turned out to be a lie" and that "the golden dream has been sold for a few ministries".
Further censuring the PTI, he said that on the one hand people are being evicted out of their homes and businesses are being destroyed and on the other, the government is glorifying putting up tents for people.
He said that the 100 days in power had been nothing but a 100 days of U-turns and that if the prime minister considers U-turns such an integral part of leadership he should take U-turns on inflation, expensive gas and power and on negative politics.
A 2,000-strong police force, including women police officers, was deployed at the venue where thousands of people gathered — including the elderly and mothers with small children.
PPP was born on November 30, 1967, when left-leaning political workers, the landed elite from Sindh, and progressive intellectuals of the country got together in Lahore and decided to form an alliance against the then military ruler General Ayub Khan.