Armed with party flags and a renewed hope, thousands of jiyalas of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) converged at Jinnah Ground on Saturday to catch a ‘glimpse’ of the grandson of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and the son of Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto – Bilawal Bhutto Zardari.
Most of the party workers and supporters say they believe that Bilawal’s persona is a ‘mix’ of his grandfather and mother and has all the attributes of a leader.
“He is a brave man,” believed 48-year-old Ali Hasan, from Naushero Feroze. “He challenges Pakistan’s opponents like a true patriot and I believe he’ll accomplish all his mother’s dreams.”
Jinnah Ground, which is located adjacent to the Quaid’s mausoleum, was already full before the arrival of the party’s young chairperson. Thousands of people, who had arrived at the venue in the morning, were sitting around the premises of Mazar-e-Quaid.
People came in large convoys and groups from various cities of Sindh. They entered the ground, shouting slogans of ‘Jeay Bhutto’ and ‘Kal bhi Bhutto zinda tha, aaj bhi Bhutto zinda hay’.
“Can you name any other party whose leaders have sacrificed their lives for the people?” asked an emotional worker, Maqsood Jatoi, who had come from Sukkur. “PPP represents the poor people. PPP is in our hearts and we’ll support Bilawal like we supported his family.”
The vast majority of the supporters wore simple clothes and slippers. Even the medically unfit and handicapped attended the event, claiming they would not let their health come in the way of their love for the party.
“I want to see Bilawal,” said 88-year-old Mehnaz, who had come from Sanghar. Mehnaz was suffering from an infection in her left leg and had come to the venue after being attended to at Jinnah hospital. “Bilawal needs my prayers,” she smiled. She hoped he would become the next prime minister. “Nothing can stop us jiyalas,” screamed Mujahid from Larkana, who is suffering from polio.
The participants comprised people of all ethnic groups. The rally, which was the PPP’s first major public show-of-strength after the grand rally on October 18, 2007, reminded the participants of Benazir Bhutto’s legacy. “Look at the people and feel their craze for the Bhuttos,” said Farooque Shah, showing the seven-year-old wound on his chest that he had received in the last rally. “I am still ready to sacrifice my life for Bilawal. Our life is for the Bhuttos.”
True to the leaders’ claims, the crowd represented the lower and middle-class segments of society. It comprised the young and the aged alike, with a respectable number of women and children. “PPP is the only party that addresses our issues,” said Wasoo, a widow from Diplo, Tharparkar.
A 49-year-old man from Shikarpur, Mumtaz Ali Junejo, said that the PPP had given all kinds of facilities to the people living in villages, such as roads, schools, hospitals and jobs. “What has Nawaz Sharif done for the poor? What has Imran Khan done for us?” he questioned. According to Junejo, thousands of people from his district had come to Karachi to show their support for Bilawal. “It is a clear message that the PPP represents the common man.”
The rally was set to commence at 3pm but Bilawal finally arrived at the venue around three hours later. At the time, hundreds of people were still on their way to attend the congregation.
Fatality: 55-year-old jiyala dies at PPP jalsa
A middle-aged supporter of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) died while entering the Bagh-e-Jinnah on Saturday.
Fifty-five-year-old Jhandu Khaskheli died as he was entering the venue of the rally from gate number one of Bagh-e-Jinnah to participate in the rally. “Scores of people gathered around the gate and trying to enter the jalsa venue,” said the witnesses. “He was also among the people who were trying to enter. However, he fell down on the floor and died.” The body was later taken to Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre for autopsy.
According to the doctors, he died of a heart attack. The body was later handed over to his companions to be sent to his hometown. The deceased hailed from the Umerkot district.
Three men died in two separate road accidents involving a PPP caravan near Thano Bula Khan on the Super Highway, while seven other passengers were injured. The deceased were identified as Ismail Khaskheli, Jamal Dasti and Muhammad Siddique Khaskheli, residents of Badin’s Matli tehsil. The caravan was being led by MPA Bashir Ahmed Halepoto. Four other jiyalas were injured in another road accident near Dhabeji in Thatta district, near the district border of Karachi.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 19th, 2014.