GUJRAT: Bilawal Bhutto Zardari’s visit to Wazirabad, once a PPP stronghold in central Punjab, signalled a ray of hope for the party and its workers.

This was the first-ever visit by the party chairman to the town after 1995-96. Former PM Benazir Bhutto was scheduled to speak to an election rally in Wazirabad on Jan 4/5, 2008, but she was assassinated in Rawalpindi on Dec 27, 2007.

Punjab PPP President Qamar Zaman Kaira said those who would often claim that the PPP had had been wiped out from Punjab should come and see how the people of Punjab had warmly received Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari.

He said on Thursday it took Bilawal’s motorcade more than three hours to reach Lalamusa city from Sialkot airport because people had accorded him a rousing welcome enroute.

Bilawal stopped in Wazirabad for the second consecutive day on Friday where he addressed workers.

The PPP has been striving hard to get back the lost ground in central parts of Punjab as the party could not win the Wazirabad National Assembly seat since it surrendered it to Hamid Nasir Chattha as a seat adjustment formula with the then Junejo faction of the PML in 1993 elections. However, party’s nominee Ijaz Samman had won the Punjab Assembly seat from Wazirabad city in 2002 when Asma Shahnawaz Cheema of the PPP had lost the NA seat with a narrow margin of around 100 votes at the hands of Mr Chattha.

Local PPP cadre is optimistic that the party position in the town will improve in the coming days. Currently, the town is considered a bastion of the PML-N.

Speaking in Wazirabad, Bilawal said he had nominated Ijaz Samman as party candidate for the Wazirabad bypoll and assured the people of resolving their all issues.

Published in Dawn, October 17th, 2020