Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari is expected to use the same container for his first Jalsa, being convened on October 18, which had saved the life of his mother at her homecoming rally on the same date in 2007.
Sources in the party told The Express Tribune that after offering Fateha at Karsaz, where over 150 people lost their lives and around 400 got injured in twin explosions in 2007, Bilawal will proceed to the venue of Jalsa adjacent to the mausoleum of Quaid-e-Azam, where the party aims to break all past records of participation in such an event.
The bullet and bomb proof armoured truck is currently parked at the Aziz Bhatti police station in Gulshan-e-Iqbal where repair work has now started after seven years. All luxury items inside including air-conditioner, a double bed and television are missing and tyres of the container are punctured, but party sources said the container will be repaired and renovated within a couple of days.
“It is highly secret plan on Bilawal’s schedule for the day given the threats to his life. But he is insisting upon using the same container which his mother had used to travel from Airport to Karsaz,” a senior PPP leader said.
Soon after Benazir Bhutto announced her return to Pakistan, the armoured truck was purchased by the party given the looming threats to her life and former Sindh home minister Dr Zulfiqar Ali Mirza supervised its modification. Though the truck is still a court property, party leaders were of the view that they would get permission from the authorities concerned. “We have already got the permission. You will see the truck inside the jalsa,” Najmi Alam, the PPP Secretary General of Karachi division, said.
According to PPP leaders, the October 18 Jalsa will be first mega event of the party after the attack on Benazir Bhutto at Karsaz. “We don’t want to indulge in any numbers game. But you will see millions of people from all over Pakistan,” Waqar Mehdi, PPP provincial secretary information told The Express Tribune.
Official sources said that more than 500 containers will be placed around Mazar-e-Quaid in order to seal the link roads that connect the venue where public gathering will take place. Sea Breeze, Numaish, Gurumandir, Peoples Chowrangi and other roads will be sealed with deployment of 20,000 cops around it.
“Police have now started collecting the data from the buildings adjacent to mausoleum of Quaid and owners have been asked to inform the police about details of their guests and relatives who turn up to meet them,” a senior police official said, adding that they have started keeping vigil on the movement of people in the area. Sharpshooters will be deployed on the rooftops of the buildings.
The parking facility will be made to one specific side and walkthrough gates will be installed. “No one can enter the venue of Jalsa without pass,” the official sources said.
Higher authorities have orders to repair all CCTV cameras that were lying non-functional for the last few years in the area. “A route plan for Bilawal is being devised and it will be top secret,” Additional IG Ghulam Qadir Thebo said, adding that he would personally monitor the security along with three DIGs through command and control system. According to party sources, the work on the stage will start by October 12 and Bilawal is to address behind a bulletproof mirror.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 11th, 2014.
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