Bilawal vows long march if govt doesn’t fulfil demands


PPP holds Salam Shuhda rally in Karachi

Salahuddin Haider

Karachi—PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said on Sunday that if four demands of his party were not met, then a long march will be announced against the federal government on December 27. Addressing a large number of supporters, party leaders, loyalists and workers, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said that if four demands of the party were not met, then PPP will initiate a protest long march against the government. “A new parliamentary national security committee should be formed,” he said, naming his first demand. “Secondly, Pakistan Peoples Party’s Panama Bill should be passed in the parliament,” he said. Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said that the third demand was that the government should implement Asif Ali Zardari’s resolution regarding the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. Last but not the least, the Bhutto scion demanded the government appoint a foreign minister immediately. Bilawal was making speeches and addresses at various points in Karachi as part of his ‘Salam Shuhuda Rally’. He threatened the government not to take his long march lightly, warning that if it began, ‘then the government would know’. “This is just the trailer, the party has yet to begin,” he said, referring to the show of political power in Karachi. “This was just the Karachi show,” he added. A confident Bilawal Bhutto, leading an impressive rally here Sunday, injected courage and confidence among his supporters, asking them to work harder and harder to make the election year of 2018 their own.
A splash of colour, jubilation, celebration, and enthusiasm, and above all spirited speeches from the young leader were the principal highlights of the show covering 22 kilometres during which the rally took a record round of the city’s main areas from Clifton to Lyari, and then onto M A Jinnah Road, Sharae Faisal, and finally Karsaz Road, the area where his mother Benazir Bhutto survived a attack on her life on her return from exile in 2007.
The rally was a commemoration of the martyrs of yesteryear, but forgetting the Shahadat of Liaquat Ali Khan, Pakistan’s first prime minister and right hand aide to the father of the nation Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah, whose death anniversary also fell on the day, was beyond comprehension.
Starting from PPP leader’s residence in Clifton, with stops and short speeches from the fire-brand leader at Boat Basin, Maulvi Tameezuddin Khan Road, Jinnah Bridge, Lea Market, Lyari, which has always been a PPP stronghold since 1970, and finally on its destination in more than 13 hours, required patience and stamina, of which there appeared no dearth.
A huge crowd of flag-waving and slogan-raising supporters and sympathisers of the party followed it on motorcycles, taxis, buses, on foot, and whatever they could lay their hands on, lent tremendous support to Bilawal who it seems is out now to revive the sagging morale of his party, which in recent years, since 2008 had been on the wane, and seems rather eclipsed, except in Sindh, its base province.
Over 7,500 security men were on the alert, but police mindset to shut off everything in the name of safety, was yet another monumental mistake.
Air passengers had to either miss their flights, or abandon their plans to travel out of Karachi, and a sick and the ailing humanity, in ambulances or private transports, or even those trekking for want of resources, were the worst sufferers.
Unconfirmed reports said three deaths in ambulances stuck in the closed corridors, but police expressed ignorance of any such happenings.
If the idea was to show strength, the PPP did well, but from the election point of view, the party must not forget that it had never achieved success at parliamentary or municipal elections in Karachi or Hyderabad.
Although Bilawal, riding a bomb-proof truck, and speaking from behind a bulletproof glass sheets, hit his opponents to his heart’s content like the PML-N, PTI, and MQM which it said had been dreaming to divide Sindh, but has itself been a victim of a self-inflicting split.
He therefore announced that year 2018 will be a basant (kite-flying festival) year in Karachi, but analysts were quick to point out that if celebrated in Karachi alone or even at provincial level, MQM-tricolour kites will perhaps cover the skies, and those of the PPP could be easily outnumbered.
Hitting out at PML-N, Bilawal said that the job of hunting the lion (election symbol of PML-N), has been given to a hunter; he even did not spare Imran Khan of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf saying he will take them on with the support of the people.
He further said, “BB’s son is amongst you. I have brought change to Sindh, I am bringing change to the party and if you side with me, then we will also bring change to Pakistan.”
“Together we will complete BB’s unfinished mission,” he vowed.
“We will together bring freedom from terrorism, for Kashmiris, from poverty, unemployment, illiteracy, sectarianism.”
The rally was also attended by leading lights of the PPP, including the chief whip, Syed Khursheed Shah, Sindh sitting and ex-chief ministers, Syed Murad Ali Shah and Qaim Ali Shah, Sherry Rehman, and many others.
For Bilawal it was a great day. His efforts to bring the party back to power after its persistent failure in Punjab and other provinces, mainly because of his father’s corruption stories, and inability to deliver during the PPP rule between 2002 and 2008, the task looks pretty daunting.