Ex-President’s homecoming after 18 months
Countdown to Raiwind begins: Bilawal
Peoples Party co-chairman, and former President Asif Zardari, returned home Friday afternoon to a tumultuous welcome, but looked cautious, picking words carefully in addressing party workers, and all those turning out to greet him on him being back with them.
After landing at the old terminal building of the Karachi airport soon after Juma prayers by a private airline, he went straight to VIP lounge, being in intimate and whispering discussion with Sindh chief minister Murad Ali Shah for more than 20 minutes, before coming out to speak to his supporters.
Almost the entire party high command was at the airport, to receive and garland him, and also spending time with him in the VIP room, but they came out one by one to reach to the stage, especially erected just in front of the old terminal.
Murad Ali Shah, Yousaf Raza Gilani, Raja Pervez Ashraf, Naveed Qamar, Sherry Rehman, Nisar Khuhro, were prominent in the long list of eminent party leaders. But Zardari kept discussing issues, perhaps the raid on office of his close aide Anwar Majeed and its possible repercussion on himself or the party, family members etc. His discussion in whispering manner with the chief minister showed that he wanted to be fully abreast of the latest situation and its aftermath.
He came out to speak to the people along with Shah, and son Bilawal who too had travelled to Karachi from Dubai with the father.
A several-thousand strong crowd, jubilant, cheering, waving party flags, and dancing to the tune of music and band in attendance since long before the arrival time, burst into prolonged applause and slogan chanting seeing their leader back. A mood of festivity pervaded the atmosphere.
Posters and banners had adorned a fairly lengthy distance from the terminal building to the Star Gate on Share Faisal. Many wore colourful dresses and costumes to show how pleased they were, for they felt convinced that the party would gain new strength after their leader’s return.
Starting with the words “Pakistan Khappe”—the Sindhi words for “long live the country”, and saluting the armed forces for their heroism in defending the borders and cleaning the country from the menace of terrorists, he also made it a point to pay eloquent tributes to the courage and valour of the Kashmiris, arrayed against the Indian occupation of forces for last many months.
All this obviously showed that he wanted to erase the impression that he was hostile to army, or that he wanted to play Sindhi card. Such an impression was created because of his speech at the Benazir’s (his wife and former PM) death anniversary two years ago when he threatened to take on the then army chief.
The reference to Kashmir obviously meant that focus on foreign policy, aimed at liberating Kashmir from Indian yoke, conceived by late Mr ZA Bhutto, would remain the centre point of his party also.
The fact that the Pakistan flag was seen at the liberation movement, showed beyond any shadow of doubt that Kashmiris wanted to be part of Pakistan. Their determination and bloodsheding will not be in vain, Zardari said,
He, however, remained unmoved by the gesture shown by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in welcoming him home, for though mildly, he did criticize the government’s economic and foreign policies, emphasizing that it was he who had conceived the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). The plan was far too bigger than it has been made out to be, as it spread on a huge canvas to cover the entire continent.
Asia will benefit from it, Zardari remarked, regretting that the present rulers had been seeing it in much narrower spectrum, contracting for roads and other projects, whereas the original plan had carried much bigger meaning.
He also thought that government’s economic policies had been faulty, as problems kept raising its ugly head and there seemed no relief for the poor. He said Peoples Party was protector of interest of farmers, peasants, and the have-nots. It was a harbinger since the days of its founder, late Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, of welfare for the common man, who today were faced with multitude of problems, and had been left high and dry.
This was a direct attack on the present government, but Zardari also pointed out that irrespective of the quality of elections results in 2013, he had ensured a smooth transfer of power, because he considered democracy to be the savior of the State.
Peoples Party was a democratic party, had struggled and sacrificed for it, and would not allow philosophy to suffer, adding that he had brought with him the powerful message that despondency will not be allowed to linger, and hope and faith in destiny will now rule the country.
He made people burst into cheers and turned their faces glow with optimism by announcing that the PPP was destined to rule, and would return to power again. He promised to give happier news to the countrymen in the speech at Benazir Bhutto’s death anniversary in Garhi Khuda Bux, near Larkana town on December 27. That is the reason he had shortened his speech on arrival. Later Zardari was taken to Bilawal House, his private residence in Clifton.
Meanwhile, Pakistan People’s Party Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said on Friday that countdown for Raiwind had begun, on the occasion of Asif Ali Zardari’s return to Pakistan. Bilawal said this in a statement from his official Twitter account, warning the Sharif government that their days in power were numbered.