LARKANA: Larkana is buzzing with Bhutto fever. “We will have cars running all day to Garhi Khuda Bux. Whenever people want to go, they will find a way,” exclaimed one enthusiastic Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) supporter manning a stall near the city’s old railway station.
“I don’t know when saheb will speak though,” he said, referring to President Asif Ali Zardari. Tomorrow is our programme… and then day after is the sheen-bay.”
The sheen-bay is the PPP-Shaheed Bhutto, headed by the widow of Mir Murtaza Bhutto, Ghinwa.
The death anniversary of the PPP founder and former prime minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto is on April 4. But the two PPPs commemorate the occasion at different times. According to PPP-SB’s Ghulam Hussain Khwaja, “The other PPP will empty out the shrine and hand it over to us at 4 am. Our programme will be on April 4 in the morning and Ghinwa Bhutto will speak.”
The PPP – now headed by President Asif Ali Zardari and Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari after the assassination of Benazir Bhutto – will have their event on the evening of April 3, kicking off with a poetry recital. The president is expected to speak around midnight.
Even though the Bhutto patriarch and matriarch and three of their children are now dead, the factions of the PPP honour their memory differently. Nadeem Bhutto explains that the event is at night because Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was hanged in the morning of April 4, while Benazir Bhutto’s death anniversary events are held in the day as she was killed in the evening.
This makes little sense, but then this is PPP heartland, where logic often takes a backseat to unbridled love for the Bhuttos. The roads from Karachi to Larkana are dotted with PPP flags and posters of MPAs from the respective areas, featuring Benazir. Faded photos of Ghinwa and her children, Fatima and Zulfikar Jr, are few and far in between.
As the iconic PPP anthem Dila’n Teer Bija’n blares through Larkana, some supporters walk five kilometres – to honour the memory of ‘saeein’.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 3rd, 2012.