• Zardari, Bilawal arrive in Quetta to address public meeting today
• Former CM Bizenjo decides to join PPP, another ex-MNA also likely to come on board
• Shazia Marri says time to move away from politics of blame; Pakistan cannot tolerate another ‘project’

QUETTA: Some two weeks after the PML-N roped in at least two dozen prominent politicians from Baloch­istan ahead of the February elections, the PPP leadership on Wednesday descended on Quetta on the eve of the party’s 56th foundation day to improve its prospects in the province.

The party already had some early success on Wednesday, with Mir Abdul Qudoos Bizenjo, a former Balochistan chief minister and president of the Balochistan Awami Party (BAP), deciding to join the PPP.

He told the media that he would formally announce his joining soon along with other colleagues and supporters and would meet Mr Bilawal and Mr Zardari. Sources said former MNA Mir Yaqoob Khan Bizenjo was also likely to join PPP.

In Quetta, all is set to celebrate the PPP’s 56th foundation day. A public meeting will be held on Thursday (today) at the Ayub National Stadium, where all arrangements have been completed.

PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari and former president Asif Ali Zardari arrived in Quetta on Wednesday and are set to address the rally.

The local administration has made security arrangements in and around the public meeting venue while the security has been beefed up in the provincial capital.

Heavy police contingents have been deployed around the stadium while police mobiles patrol the streets and hotel where the PPP leaders are staying.

‘Nation can’t tolerate another project’

Speaking at a press conference in Quetta, PPP’s Central Information Secretary Shazia Marri said the party was focused on strengthening democracy and combating poverty, unemployment, extremism, and the politics of division and hatred.

Flanked by senior PPP leader Faisal Kareem Kundi, Ms Marri criticised the PML-N supremo for roping in several electables and stressed that Mr Bhutto-Zardari had already made it clear that it was time to abandon the old style of politics and align with progressive ideals with maximum youth participation.

She said that despite being the youngest foreign minister, Mr Bhutto-Zardari brought positive changes to the foreign relations allegedly marred under the PTI administration.

Ms Marri said that it was time to move away from the politics of appearances, lies, and blame game. “People have a plethora of issues, including matters of human rights, economic rights, and constitutional rights, which need to be addressed. It is the responsibility of the people to correctly use their vote, as Pakistan cannot tolerate another project,” she said.

Replying to a question, Ms Marri said the issue of missing persons was crucial, and progress was expected on the issue by the caretaker prime minister, home minister, and the chief justice of Pakistan (CJP), all of whom are from Balochistan. She reiterated that PPP always talked about missing persons and would continue to do so.

On differences with the PML-N, she said that the PPP played a key role in the last government, but the process of provocation with statements started from the other side.

During the press conference, Faisal Kareem Kundi mentioned that Mr Bilawal and Mr Zardari would convey a strong message at the public gathering in Quetta.

He emphasised that with the presence of CJP Qazi Faez Isa, it was unlikely that the elections would be delayed. He also expressed total trust in the caretaker premier and the Election Commission for conducting fair elections.

Foundation day messages

Meanwhile, in his message on the PPP’s foundation day, Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari said his party was not just a political organisation but a movement.

“We are determined to complete the unfinished mission of the party’s founding chairman Quaid-i-Awam Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and Chairperson Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto,” he said.

According to a press release issued by Bilawal House Media Cell, he said that Asif Ali Zardari’s vision was re­­f­lected in the China-Pakistan Eco­n­omic Corridor (CPEC), the Eighteenth Amendment, the NFC Award, transfer of unfettered presidential powers to the parliament, Aghaz-i-Haqooq-i-Balochistan, Benazir Income Support Programme, and “Pakistan Khappay”.

Asif Ali Zardari in his message vowed to create a Pakistan free of class exploitation and based on the ideology of former premier Benazir Bhutto.

The PPP was determined to build a progressive, enlightened, egalitarian and just society, Mr Zardari said and asked the nation to support Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, hoping that the young leader would not disappoint.

Nayyar Hussian Bukhari, secretary general of Pakistan Peoples Party Parliamentarians, said in his message that the establishment of the PPP was a historic and memorable day as it gave voice to the poor in the country.

Published in Dawn, November 30th, 2023

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