HYDERABAD: Confirming his return to Pakistan on March 23, 2012, former president Pervez Musharraf said he expects the people of Sindh to welcome him warmly when he lands in Pakistan.
The All Pakistan Muslim League’s (APML) chief said this while addressing a public rally in Sindh, which was marred by intervention by police officials in an alleged attempt to disperse the rally, via a telephonic conference on Sunday.
“I hope you will put up banners and posters of APML everywhere in Sindh,” said the former chief of army staff in a rally predominantly attended by the Khaskheli Rajooni Ittehad — community members of which gathered from Mirpurkhas, Umerkot, Tharparkar, Tando Muhammad Khan and Tando Allahyar.
The rally was arranged in the Hatri area along the Hyderabad by-pass. Organisers claimed the participation was between 13,000 to 15,000 people — although what appeared to be seated were a few thousand on chairs and parked buses.
The Khaskheli community members took part in the precession predominantly on the call of the community’s President Sardar Ghulam Mustafa Khaskheli, who is APML’s coordinator in Sindh.
Khaskheli, who was the last one to speak before Musharraf’s telephonic address began, asked his people to keep sitting after many supporters started leaving when Khaskheli concluded his speech.
Earlier in the day, police intervened and allegedly tried to stop the public meeting by throwing chairs on the ground.
Chalgri Town’s deputy DPO Irshad Nabi Bhutto said police officials had to intervene since organisers had not obtained official permission to hold the public rally.
However, Barrister Saif of the APML argued that an official permission to hold a rally or a public meeting was not a requirement unless section 144 is enforced in that particular city.
“Yesterday, the deputy commissioner of Hyderabad had assured us of all possible cooperation,” he claimed.
But later in the day, police backed off as people started flocking to the rally.
“I am proud of the participants who made it to the public meeting despite so many hurdles from far-flung areas,” said Musharraf. “Had the police not stopped our caravans coming from Tando Jam, Karachi and other places, the number would have been over 25,000 here.”
With regards to the police’s opposition, Musharraf reminded them that it was him who increased their salaries and gave them other perquisites too.
Musharraf then went on to compare his performance with that of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s rally in Faisalabad the same day.
He added that real democracy came to Pakistan only during his regime. “Without going into the details about the prevailing situation, I will only say that poor people are being crushed,” he said.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 21st, 2011.
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