Birthday celebrations of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto started with a call to prayers, followed by a guard of honour and salute performed by the Sindh police. Following this, the national anthem and other patriotic songs were sung by school children.
The late prime minister’s grave at Garhi Khuda Bukhsh was bedecked with petals and showered with prayers by parliamentarians and government officials, including Sindh Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah.
Bakhtawar Bhutto Zardari also visited the graves of the Bhutto family at Garhi Khuda Bukhsh. She was accompanied by her aunt, MNA Faryal Talpur, MNA Ramesh Lal, Dr Shafqat Hussain Soomro, and others
Several officials, including Qaim Ali Shah, Law Minister Ayaz Soomro and Tauqeer Fatima Bhutto, donated blood at a camp set up near the Bhutto shrine. Meanwhile, President Asif Ali Zardari also donated blood at the camp office of the President House in Naudero. The Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) has set up blood donation camps across the country in connection with the 57th birth anniversary of Benazir Bhutto. The camps will be functioning across Sindh from today to June 23.
According to Shah, donating blood is a noble way to pay tribute to the sacrifices of Benazir Bhutto. The blood collected will be used to help soldiers and survivors fighting terrorists in tribal areas , said the chief minister.
Hyderabad celebrations, plans for culture
Glowing tributes were paid to Benazir at a ceremony held at the Mumtaz Mirza Auditorium, Sindh Museum in Hyderabad.
The ceremony was presided over by Senior Sindh Minister for Education Pir Mazharul Haq while Sindh Minister for Inter-Provincial Coordination Makhdoom Jamiluz Zaman was the chief guest.
“Despite threats to her life, Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto returned to her country with a vision to improve the socioeconomic condition of people,” said Haq in his opening remarks.
Makhdoom Jamiluz Zaman, who is also the chairman of the Sindh Adabi Board, said that they plan to publish an English magazine in the name of Benazir Bhutto. The department hopes to introduce Sindh’s literature and culture across the world through this magazine.
“Benazir Bhutto was a great scholar and writer,” he said, citing this as the reason the board had decided to host a celebration for the late prime minister’s birth anniversary.
Translations of Benazir’s poetry were also presented at the ceremony. Some of her English poems were translated by Ibrhaim Joyo and published by the board in a volume called “Marvi, Marora and Malir”.
While speaking on the culture and customs of Sindh, Haq said that it is high time that the province’s culture, literature and language are promoted. Sindh is the land of great Sufi saints, said Haq, adding that the saints always spread a message of love and brotherhood.
The PPP government is trying to make the country a respectable place for scholars, writers and poets, the education minister told participants at the ceremony.
The Sindhi Adabi Board should be run on more modern lines, recommended the minister, adding that the Sindh government has already granted permission to the Sindhi Adabi Board for launching an FM radio station under a public-private partnership. This will help them earn money, which can be used for the development of the board, said Haq.
The event was attended by Sindh Minister for Fisheries Zahid Ali Bhurgari, Sindh Minister for Minority Affairs Dr Mohan Lal Kohistani, eminent scholar and researcher Dr Ghulam Ali Allana and many others.
The main birthday ceremony was held Monday night at Naudero House in which President Asif Ali Zardari, provincial ministers, PPP leaders and family members were present. However, the cake there was not the only one cut to celebrate Benazir’s 57th birthday.
A cake was also cut by the Speaker of the National Assembly, Dr Fehmida Mirza, at the Sindh media cell in a ceremony organised by the PPP on Sunday night. Hyderabad was not far behind with a gigantic 57-pound cake cut in the district council building.
Meanwhile, Quran recitations were held in PPP offices in Sukkur, Shikarpur, Jacobabad, Khairpur, Faiz Ganj, Daherki, Ghotki, Badin and other towns and cities of the province. Birthday parties were also organised in Jilani House and Wassan House. PPI/APP
PPP workers disappointed with party leaders
Several workers of the Pakistan People’s Party feel let down as the entire party leadership gathered to celebrate Benazir’s 57th birth anniversary.
According to a worker from District South, he was well known among the local leadership of the party when Benazir was alive but since her death, the leaders have offered little to such party workers.
“I visited the People’s Secretariat after almost a year and I was disheartened when I got a response very different from what it used to be,” said Shahid Khan. When Benazir was alive, she used to listen to her workers and she directed the middle management of the party to look after them, Khan added. Even a member of the party’s ladies wing told The Express Tribune that enthusiasm among the workers has declined. “We danced, played her songs (dedicated to her), put up party flags in the streets using our own money and celebrated the Shaheed Ranis’ birthday,” said Ameeda Manzoor, a former councilor from Lyari, “Since her death only a few local leaders messaged us to join the ceremonies.” Manzoor added that she did not go because local leaders score points through their participation and in the end they do not even bother to ask how they would go home.
Although President Zardari gave some relief packages to people of Lyari but the local leadership ignored party workers when it came to employment. “We sacrificed many lives from Lyari but little did we get in return,” she added.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 22nd, 2010.
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