LAHORE – Following in the footsteps of his mother Benazir Bhutto, Pakistan People’s Party Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari is leading a rally of party workers against the incumbent government, aiming to put pressure on the government to accept his ‘four demands’.
The PPP chairperson left Bilawal House, Lahore, on Thursday morning for Faisalabad. Reaching at Sheikhupura, a district of Punjab, Bilawal announced his intention to ‘present a new PPP’, despite endurance of the party’s ideology over time.
“We have to present a new PPP so it can stay abreast of current challenges,” Bilawal told the rally, claiming that Benazir’s vision was even more valuable now that it had been in the past.
“The PML-N government has been unsuccessful. We cannot stay quiet any longer,” he claimed.
Earlier, addressing the party workers at the Sagian Bridge, Bilawal said: “I have started a movement which will continue till the remains of Zia’s policy are eliminated.”
“The Sharifs have held Punjab hostage,” he said. “They have occupied the land of the Sufis.”
“Shahbaz Sharif and Nawaz Sharif say that the country is making progress. How can a country make progress when sources of income are so limited,” he asked.
“If you are with me… it is evident that we will have to run the Sharifs out,” he asserted.
The young Bhutto, who has yet to contest election, also touched upon various problems affecting people, including gas and power shortages, agricultural support prices, shutting down of industries and a rise in unemployment.
“This is the government’s job – to provide gas to factories, livelihood to people and an end to poverty,” he said.
“They [PML-N] will have to go,” he told the public gathering.
Supporters of the PPP led by Bilawal will reach Faisalabad in the shape of a caravan.
On the way to Faisalabad, Bilawal will deliver brief speeches at public meetings at Sheikhupura, Nankana Sahib and Shahkot, according to the PPP’s central Punjab chapter chief Qamar Zaman Kaira.
The rally is part of Bilawal’s plan to reorganize the Bhutto’s party and boost the morale of party activists in Punjab who had gone into dormancy reportedly because of PPP’s ‘reconciliation policy’ towards the ruling PML-N and distancing of the leadership from workers during the last eight years or so.
He had earlier announced shifting all his political activities to Lahore and making Bilawal House Lahore his base camp to reorganize jiyalas in Punjab, once considered a stronghold of PPP that gradually slipped out of its hands to the benefit of the PML-N.
In a tweet yesterday, Bilawal had said, “Muk Gaya Tera Show Nawaz” (Your show is over) setting the mood for the rally.
— BilawalBhuttoZardari (@BBhuttoZardari) January 18, 2017
The party co-chairperson, Asif Ali Zardari, is absent from the scene. However, he spoke to his son Bilawal over the phone hours before the rally.
PPP’s four demands are:
- The parliamentary committee on national security be formed
- PPP’s Panama bill be passed
- PPP co-chairperson Asif Zardari’s resolution on CPEC be implemented
- A foreign minister be appointed immediately
In December, Bilawal and his father Asif Ali Zardari made their first major appearance at a rally together in three years, announcing their intention to contest by-polls and acquire seats in ‘this parliament’.
Bilawal will contest polls under the PPP banner with the symbol of ‘two swords’, whereas Zardari will contest under the PPP-P and the ‘arrow’ symbol.