Politics not the name of mud-slinging: Bilawal

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HYDERABAD: Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Chairperson Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, while addressing a rally in Hyderabad, on Wednesday said politics is not the name of mud-slinging.

“These people use corruption as a mere slogan,” Bilawal said. “But corruption cannot be ended till farmers and labourers continue to be exploited.”

Addressing a large gathering of charged-up supporters waving party flags and chanting slogans in support of the party, Bilawal criticised the stance of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Chairperson Imran Khan, saying there are some politicians who have not yet come out of the cricket ground.

PPP has faced challenges ever since its inception, he added. “After Zulfikar Bhutto was hanged, Benazir and Nusrat Bhutto took charge of the party and proved the dictators wrong.”

On the one hand was PPP, Bilawal said, while on the other were the politics nurtured by dictators.

On the anniversary of the twin blasts at Karachi’s Karsaz during the homecoming rally of slain PPP leader Benazir Bhutto, the scion paid tribute to those martyred in the twin bombings on October 18 in 2007.

While addressing a rally in Hyderabad, the PPP chairperson lauded the courage of those who “did not run away after the first attack but instead rushed towards their leader, Benazir Bhutto, and embraced martyrdom in the second blast”.

The PPP chairperson also criticised the motorway constructed under the rule of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz. “Your so-called motorway has so far claimed hundreds of lives.”

Other leaders of the party were also present on the stage with Bilawal.

Earlier in the evening, PPP leader Naveed Qamar addressed the rally, saying martyrdom takes PPP higher in rank. But, he added, those behind the Karsaz attack are still alive.

Qamar said they do not fear conspiracies, therefore, would never back out.

“Conspirators say elections will not take place,” he added. “But such statements are made by those who get nothing out of elections.”

Forty-thousand seats have been placed in the venue for thousands of supporters and workers expected to pay tribute to the 177 martyrs of the blast.

Strict security measures have been taken and 5,000 police personnel have been deployed in and around the venue.

The bombing on October 18, 2007, was an attack on the motorcade carrying former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto. The streets of Karachi had come to a grinding halt to welcome Benazir Bhutto, after an eight-year self-imposed exile during which she lived in Dubai and London. Two explosions occurred in front of the rallying bullet-proof truck from which she greeted her fans and party members at approximately 00:52 PST, on the route about halfway from the airport to the tomb of Muhammad Ali Jinnah for a scheduled rally, just after Bhutto’s truck had crossed a bridge near Karsaz.

Police vehicles bore the brunt of the blasts, which completely destroyed three police vans and killed at least 20 policemen in the vehicles. Conflicting reports indicate that Bhutto, who was not injured in the attack, was either sitting on top of the truck or had just climbed into the compartment of the truck at the time of the explosion.

Bhutto was escorted to her residence, Bilawal House. The victims were rushed to Jinnah Hospital, Liaquat National Hospital, Civil Hospital and Abbasi Shaheed Hospital. In a press conference on 19 October 2007, Bhutto claimed that her security team was unable to prevent the attack because of the street lights being turned off, and called for an inquiry into why this happened.

‘SUPPORT DEMOCRACY, BUT NOT NAWAZ SHARIF’:

Earlier in the day, Bilawal was in Hala to console PPP leader Makhdoom Jamil-uz-Zaman on his mother’s death.

While speaking to reporters there, the PPP chairperson said that his party has supported democracy but never stood with Nawaz Sharif.

Bilawal stressed that there should be across-the-board accountability.

When asked about his party’s stance on Nawaz Bilawal replied: “We are never with Nawaz Sharif but support democracy when it is in trouble.”

The PPP chairperson also spoke on the sacrifices made by party’s martyrs for the country and democracy.

While responding to a question, the PPP chairperson also spoke about Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Chairperson Imran Khan, saying the latter would soon retire from politics on his own.

‘TIME TO REITERATE PLEDGE TO DEMOCRACY, FREEDOM’:

Meanwhile, former president Asif Ali Zardari, in his message on the 10th anniversary of Karsaz tragedy, said that October 18 was an important day in Pakistan’s history, as battle lines between democracy and pluralism on one hand and religious fanaticism and bigotry on the other were drawn on this day nine years ago.

He added that the battle lines drawn in 2007 had only sharpened over time and that the fight would continue until a final victory was achieved.

Recalling the incidents of the Karsaz tragedy, in which at least 180 people were killed when a motorcade carrying Benazir Bhutto was bombed, Zardari said that Benazir decided to return from her exile defying all odds and warnings because she felt that Pakistan was threatened by religious extremists and dictators.

He said that the enemies of democracy and Pakistan attacked her caravan, killing nearly 200 party workers and democrats. He said that the martyrs of the Karsaz tragedy were the nation’s heroes and heroines, who laid their lives for democracy and freedom’s cause, and, by so doing, uplifted the nation’s hopes and determination.

He said that October 18 was an occasion for people to reiterate their pledge to fulfil Shaheed Benazir Bhutto’s mission to uphold democracy and defeat militants.

He also recalled the sacrifices made by Pakistan’s armed forces, civil law enforcing agencies and people who were involved in the fight against extremism.

Two days ago, a ‘Salam Karsaz Shuhada rally’ was organised by the People’s Party in Karachi. The former president commended the people who had helped organise it.