While Karachi almost reluctantly moves on from Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s mammoth rally, Garhi Khuda Bux prepares for a public gathering to mark the fourth death anniversary of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto.
Leaders of the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), including President Asif Ali Zardari and Sindh Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah, on Monday reached the town where Benazir, her father Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and mother Nusrat Bhutto are buried. The leaders are scheduled to hold a public rally in Garhi Khuda Bux, and all arrangements have been made.
Zardari, who was accompanied by Interior Minister Rehman Malik and daughters Aseefa and Bakhtawar Bhutto Zardari, visited the Bhutto’s family mausoleum where he laid floral wreaths over the graves and offered Fateha. The president then left for his camp office in Naudero.
Sources told The Express Tribune that Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani and the president’s son Bilawal will be reaching Garhi Khuda Bux today (Tuesday). They are also expected to address the public rally.
Security has been tightened in Naudero and Garhi Khuda Bux, where more than 6,500 policement and 1,000 Rangers personnel have been deployed. Other security personnel have also been deputed to provide cover.
A meeting of the PPP’s Central Executive Committee, which was earlier scheduled for December 27, has also been postponed to December 28.
Meanwhile, addressing a press conference in Larkana, Sindh Local Government Minister Ayaz Soomro strongly criticised Sardar Assef Ahmed Ali, who joined the Imran Khan-led PTI after quitting the PPP on Sunday.
“He left the party because he knew he will not be given a ticket for the 2013 elections,” Soomro said, pointing out the fact that Ali had twice held portfolios under PPP’s governments.
In a bid to dampen the effect of PTI’s December 25 rally, Soomro said that holding ‘big’ public rallies did not imply that the support will translate into votes.
In Sukkur, PPP leader Fauzia Wahab told reporters at the airport that there were more flags at the PTI rally than there were people. She dispelled the impression that the president or the government was under any threat because of Memogate scandal.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 27th, 2011.