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Wattoo, associates join PPP

May 30, 2008

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ISLAMABAD, May 29: Veteran politician and Adviser to the Prime Minister on Industries and Production Mian Manzoor Ahmed Wattoo joined the Pakistan People’s Party with his associates on Thursday.

The announcement was made at a reception hosted by Mr Wattoo for PPP Co-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari. It was attended by Sindh Governor Dr Ishratul Ibad, federal ministers Syed Khurshed Shah and Raja Pervez Ashraf, Adviser to the Prime Minister on Interior Rehman Malik and PPP leader Jehangir Badar.

Mr Wattoo expressed confidence in the leadership of Mr Zardari and said he was joining the PPP at the invitation of the PPP co-chairman.

“Asif Zardari called me the day after the Feb 18 election and asked me to become his ally,” the former Punjab chief minister said, adding: “Both of us have been together in jail.”

Mr Wattoo said he had led the coalition government of the PPP and PML-Junejo in Punjab from 1993 to 1995.

He said many people who had been in the government in the past now admitted that the hanging of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was a judicial murder. “I acknowledge his services for Pakistan and the nation. He was a great leader and the nation was deprived of his leadership.”

Mr Wattoo praised the sacrifices rendered by Benazir Bhutto and said she was committed to her people and homeland. “She devoted her life to save Pakistan and restore democracy in the country.”

Mr Wattoo said his daughter MPA Rubina Shaheen Wattoo, MNA Mehar Saeed Ahmed and many other associates and supporters had also joined the PPP and they would demonstrate their strength on June 1 when Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani would address a public meeting in Okara.

Welcoming Mr Wattoo, Mr Zardari said their friendship started during the difficult days of solitary confinement.

He said Pakistan today was on the crossroads where “we need friends to safeguard its integrity and sovereignty”.

“Democracy will prosper and move forward. We are not new to democracy and, therefore, we don’t need anybody’s certificate,” he added.

Mr Zardari said the next budget would be pro-poor and business-friendly.—APP