Bilawal asks workers to start preparing for 2018 polls

Source: Published in Politics on Monday, March 21, 2016

Pakistan People’s Party Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has asked workers of the party to begin preparing for next general elections so that it is “geared up to reclaim its lost glory in 2018”.

Presiding over a meeting of the party and its sister organisations at the Bilawal House on Sunday, the PPP chief discussed with other leaders the situation in the country, particularly the law and order situation in Sindh and matters relating to the party.

Bilawal Bhutto said the struggle launched by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and Benazir Bhutto for democracy in the country was still continuing, adding that some forces would try to weaken democracy, but the PPP and other progressive parties would jointly foil such designs with the support of masses.

During the meeting, PPP leaders briefed Bilawal Bhutto on the preparations being made for a public meeting to be held on the death anniversary of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto on April 4 at Garhi Khuda Bakhsh.

A three-member ‘permanent committee’ was formed for observing death anniversaries of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and Benazir Bhutto on April 4 and Dec 27 respectively every year. The committee would comprise Nisar Ahmed Khuhro, Nasir Shah and Maula Bux Chandio.

The meeting was attended, among others, by Sindh Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah, Leader of Opposition in the National Assembly Syed Khursheed Shah, Senior Sindh Minister Khuhro, Sindh Assembly Speaker Agha Siraj Durrani, provincial Ministers Murad Ali Shah, Jam Mehtab Daher and Nasir Shah and Adviser to Chief Minister Chandio.

Gen Musharraf

In Islamabad, the PPP held a demonstration in front of the National Press Club to condemn the government for allowing Gen Pervez Musharraf to proceed abroad even though cases involving high treason and other serious charges were pending against him.

The demonstration was organised by Nargis Faiz Malik and other office-bearers of women’s wing of the Islamabad chapter of the party.

Speaking on the occasion, Senator Farhatullah Babar asked the government to “come clean” on whether Gen Musharraf’s sudden departure to the UAE was the result of “pressure from certain quarters” or some “deal”.

“Until we come to know of the reasons behind this mystery, we will not be able to stop dictators from subverting the Constitution and also getting away with it,” he said.

“The political message from his (Gen Musharraf’s) exit from the country is that there are two sets of laws — one for the ordinary people and the other for the strong and powerful.

“The stark message is that a dictator even, while facing formal treason charges in a competent court of law, can get away unpunished and untried,” Senator Babar said.

The PPP’s spokesman likened the sudden departure of Gen Musharraf to the mysterious discovery of Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad in 2011.

“Musharraf did not spend even a few hours in a lock-up or a prison, let alone being sentenced and convicted,” he said.

The former military dictator, he said, had surprised his friends and foes alike when, without permission of the court, he went to hospital under official escort and was mysteriously protected from prosecution and trial.

“The way a former military dictator was facilitated to flee the country calls for a candid discussion and debate in the parliament on the how and why of it.

“Musharraf has mocked not only the government but also the parliament and indeed all political forces,” the PPP leader said.

He pointed out that on reaching his residence in the UAE, Gen Musharraf reportedly cancelled appointments with his doctors and instead held a meeting of his party. “By doing so Musharraf not only mocked the Constitution and the law but also embarrassed his perceived benefactors and defenders,” he said.

Although the former president said he would return to the country and the government claimed that cases against him would continue, he did not give any assurances in writing on the issue, the PPP leader added. 

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