Cold shoulder: Lyari indifferent to PPP’s rally plans

Residents say the party has done nothing to address their issues

Sameer Mandhro April 14, 2015
There seems to be little excitement in Lyari about the upcoming PPP rally, scheduled to be held at the Kakri Ground on April 26. Residents of the area complain that their issues have not been addressed by the party. PHOTO: FILE

KARACHI: Lyari is not too excited about the idea of a Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) rally, scheduled for April 26 at the Kakri Ground — the venue of the wedding ceremony of the party's slain chairperson, Benazir Bhutto.

This is the first time that the party will be holding a rally at the ground after 1988. Earlier, Benazir Bhutto had planned a public gathering at the venue in 2007. She was, however, assassinated just two days before the set date.

For now, the political leadership in what is traditionally considered to be a PPP stronghold is trying to convene meetings in various union councils to invite residents to the big gathering. The residents, on the other hand, seem uninterested. Only local party office bearers appear to be busy in preparations for the gathering where Benazir's husband, former president and party co-chairperson, Asif Ali Zardari, will be the chief guest.

Uncharacteristic to the political fervour that has come to be associated with Lyari, the streets this time have no triple-coloured flags of the PPP. No posters or life-size banners of the party's leaders stare down from the walls. There are no camps where diehard supporters dance to 'beja teer beja'. This time, Lyari has seemingly given a cold shoulder to the PPP.

Not this time

For their part, the residents recount issues that have not been addressed by the PPP. These include shortage of potable water, broken down sewage system, frequent power outages, unemployment, rampant crime, lack of health facilities and educational institutions as well as the deteriorating condition of the roads and streets.

"Have they addressed the issue of water shortage?" questioned a party supporter party, Mohammad Anwar. "Our streets look like swimming pools. There are piles of garbage everywhere." He was interrupted by another resident. "Have they provided jobs to our children?" chipped Zubair Ahmed. "The party supported criminals who ruled over us and destroyed our future." Both the friends categorically said they will not attend the rally before storming off.

Besides the two members of the Sindh Assembly, Javed Nagori and Sania Naz, and MNA Shahjehan Baloch, who are elected representatives from the area, other leaders such as the chief minister's adviser, Nadia Gabol, have also been seen visiting the area after a long time.

Gabol is back

Meanwhile, former MNA Nabil Gabol, who recently parted ways with the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) visited various parts of Lyari, assuring residents that only he could address their issues.

"People simply don't trust the PPP anymore," said a resident, Abdul Aziz. "People don't even trust Gabol," he added, claiming that true representation was missing. "Lyari and its people have been ignored even though they have always supported the PPP."

Aziz lamented there was no alternative to replace the PPP in Lyari. "Unfortunately, other political parties have never made serious efforts in Lyari. Outsiders don't know that the majority of residents don't like the PPP now," he said.

"The law and order situation is much better now," said another resident, Mehmood Ali. "Lyari will be transformed if proper attention is given to development." Ali was of the belief, however, that though people had reservations against the party's top leadership, they will still attend the rally. According to him, the psyche of the people of Lyari was unique in that way. "They will not support any other political party," he remarked.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 15th, 2015.


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