ISLAMABAD: In a strange move, the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) on Tuesday called off its traditional April 4 public rally in Garhi Khuda Bux, officials said.
The PPP had said last week it would kick-start its election campaign with a public rally in Garhi Khuda Bux on the anniversary of its founder Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s hanging on April 4, 1979.
But on Tuesday, a party spokesperson in Naudero said the gathering would take place in a hall and would be closed to all but state media. PPP politicians would also hold separate events in other districts, he said.
“We are not organising a big national-level rally this time. Meetings are being held at district level separately,” Ghulam Mustafa Leghari told AFP.
President Asif Ali Zardari will address Thursday’s meeting in Naudero, Leghari said, but he did not confirm whether party chairman Bilawal, who returned from Dubai early on Tuesday, would also attend.
“Only official media will be allowed to cover this meeting. Other media can stand outside and take the feed from Pakistan Television,” Leghari added.
Local party officials denied the rescheduling had anything to do with security concerns and senior spokespersons were not immediately reachable.
“It (the change) is only a technical reason. Our candidates are busy with paperwork, scrutiny and the election campaign,” said Lateef Mughal, PPP information secretary in Karachi.
Last week, main PPP spokesperson Qamar Zaman Kaira told AFP that 24-year-old Bilawal, who is too young to contest a seat, would make few public appearances “due to security concerns”.
The revised arrangements for Thursday stand in stark contrast to the major campaign rallies that the PPP’s main rivals have already held.
On March 25, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz leader Nawaz Sharif attracted tens of thousands in Mansehra.
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf chief Imran Khan has also pulled in crowds of tens of thousands at major public events across the country.