Pakistan's President Asif Ali Zardari, widower of assassinated former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, speaks outside the Bhutto family mausoleum to mark her death anniversary in Garhi Khuda Bakhsh, near Larkana December 26, 2012.— Photo by AFP

LARKANA / SUKKUR: Amid speculations on the eve of the death anniversary of Benazir Bhutto that President Asif Ali Zardari, who is co-chairman of the PPP, may hand over the party’s leadership to his son Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, Information Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira said on Wednesday that it would be an important day for the party and the country as another Bhutto was starting his political career.

Talking to reporters at Sukkur Press Club, he said the journey started by the late Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and continued by Benazir Bhutto for strengthening the country was full of crises, problems and sacrifices.

He said Zulfikar Ali Bhutto had begun the journey by giving a new philosophy to Pakistan, Benazir Bhutto had also given her vision and now Bilawal Bhutto would announce his vision.

Sindh Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah, Law Minister Ayaz Soomro and Local Government Minister Agha Siraj Durrani have also been talking about the beginning of the ‘political career’ of Bilawal Bhutto Zardari on Thursday in Garhi Khuda Bakhsh Bhutto.

However, the president’s spokesman Senator Farhatullah Babar, talking to Dawn, rejected the speculation about a handover of party leadership and termed it ‘totally incorrect’.

The central executive committee of the Pakistan People’s Party is scheduled to meet on Thursday at the camp office of the President’s House. PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari will preside over the meeting, according to sources. Mr Kaira said the killers of Benazir Bhutto had been arrested and President Zardari, Bilawal and daughters were satisfied with the investigation.

He said Saifur Rehman had registered fake cases and the Supreme Court had not upheld a high court verdict against PPP’s leaders after the disclosure of a telephone conversation related to it. He said the judges who had taken bribe and punished Ms Bhutto and President Zardari were gone, but a person who had “bought the verdict” was now a chief minister.

He said Sindh had played a vital role in the creation and strengthening of Pakistan.

The minister said that when the PPP government came to power in 2008, it was being said that Taliban might capture Islamabad, no other country was with Pakistan, people were facing problems in getting flour and food grains were being imported.

“The government has brought the economic crisis under control despite two major floods and now the country is exporting grains and also playing its role at all international forums,” the information minister said.

The federation was weak when the PPP took over, but it had resolved a major problem like provincial autonomy, he said.

He said the previous president, who was in army uniform, had been permitted not only to contest elections but also to amend the Constitution.

However, President Zardari has handed over all powers to the prime minister and parliament.

Mr Zardari was serving as a political president because conspiracies were hatched against democracy in the past in President’s House, Mr Kaira said.

He said an additional Rs1,000 billion had been given to the provinces. The federation would be stronger when provinces were strengthened, he said.

Mr Kaira said elections would not be postponed.

He said the Kalabagh dam issue was a dead horse and PPP’s stance on it was clear.

In reply to a question, he put down the electricity crisis to shortage of water in canals, disapproving of attempts to politicise the matter.

Talking earlier in Rahimyar Khan at the residence of PPP MNA Javaid Iqbal Warraich, Mr Kaira said the politics of ultimatums was not good for the country. He said Tehrik Minhajul Quran leader Tahirul Qadri was welcome, contending that democracy had made it possible.

He said the PPP would accept Dr Qadri’s demand for a role for the army and judiciary in the caretaker set-up.

Mr Kaira said the Muttahida Qaumi Movement was a coalition partner of the PPP, but the two parties had different ideologies.

The minister expressed reservations on the court decision against former prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani.

Mr Kaira said former minister Hamid Saeed Kazmi would be PPP’s candidate from his constituency.

Talking to PPP workers on the occasion, he severely criticised the Sharif brothers and the Punjab government.

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