The 11-party Opposition alliance has once more asked Prime Minister Imran Khan “to step down” or face the movement’s long march to Islamabad with the aim to “dethrone him”.
PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said that if by December 31, the premier does not resign, the jiyalas (party loyalists) will march down to the capital and “drag him off his seat”.
PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said the government and any naysayers who think the Opposition will back off, need only look to the Bhutto mausoleum in Garhi Khuda Bakhsh.
He recounted the struggles of his grandfather and his uncles, all who “sacrificed their lives” but “did not sway from their democratic beliefs”.
“Look at Benazir Bhutto’s life, spent in the service of the people,” he said.
“Benazir is alive today in the hearts of everyone, and those who clashed with her, their names are forgotten.
“Ziaul Haq’s grave lies unattended, and Gen Pervez Musharraf is living a life of disgrace abroad,” Bilawal said.
The young PPP leader, who lost his mother at a tender age, said that “Benazir’s presence is sorely missed today, and if she were around, these puppets would not dare compete” with the Opposition.
Asif Ali Zardari
PPP President Asif Ali Zardari in his address said running a country is “not the same as managing a cricket team”.
“It takes a different mindset to run a country and these people do not possess it,” he said.
“This government will collapse on its own weight,” said Zardari.
He challenged the government to hold elections and see who the people stand behind.
Zardari said that the National Accountability Bureau has started to “blackmail” people.
“I said in the assembly on the first day — run the country or run NAB,” he said.
“There was not a single political prisoner in the PPP government,” the party president said.
He said in the PPP tenure, prices of commodities were low. “We ran the country carefully, like raising a child,” he added.
Zardari said that when the rule ended and the PML-N came into power “they were welcomed”. He said he wishes to see “all political parties on the same page”.
He promised to “meet everyone soon” when he feels better. “This government will not last any longer. A government of your choosing will come,” he said.
The former president said that he had “removed Musharraf from parliament”. “What is Imran Khan, in comparison?”
“We can remove Imran Khan Niazi. We just need to change our approach,” he told the crowds.
“We must fill up the jails and we are ready to do that,” Zardari said.
PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz began her address in Sindhi much to the audience’s surprise.
She thanked her hosts for their warmth and hospitality since her arrival in the city.
Maryam said it saddens her that Benazir Bhutto, the first female prime minister of the Muslim world, “had to lay down her life” during her struggle and for her beliefs. She said it is a pain that she too carries.
Maryam recalled how, on that dark day, Nawaz Sharif was among the first to be notified and how he had embraced PPP leaders and shared their grief that day.
She said she knows what it is to lose a mother. “The grief is still fresh from two and a half years ago”.
“I still got to spend time with my mother but Bilawal lost his mother when he was still so young.”
Maryam said she is pouring her heart out like never before today.
“Benazir fought for her father’s struggle and vision and then ultimately joined him in the afterlife.”
“I too wish to struggle for a united Pakistan,” she said.
The PML-N leader recalled the forging of the Charter of Democracy signed between PPP and PML-N, a journey that was started by Nawaz Sharif and Benazir Bhutto.
“This are not simply strands from history, these were events that were to alter Pakistan’s fate,” she said.
She vowed that she and Bilawal will not only continue the journey but propel it forward. “The political mistakes that were made in the past were taken advantage of by anti-democratic forces.”
Maryam said all political parties then joined heads and not only made right the wrongs but vowed never to repeat them.
She said that the fruits of this move were then borne, when governments were set to complete their tenures.
“In 2008, when there was talk of the PPP government being toppled, Nawaz Sharif quashed such thinking and said that the coming and going of governments is a decision for the people to make, not political parties.”
She said “some forces” for whom a “divide and rule” strategy made more sense, then “put together fallen fragments from political parties and formed the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf”.
Maryam said then an “incompetent man” was then “imposed on us all”.
“What does PDM need to say to that man? He himself is saying he knows nothing […] he is saying people should not assume power without preparation.
“I say, no one should be brought into power without preparation,” said the PML-N leader.
She said Prime Minister Imran Khan, when people are “killing themselves out of hunger and desperation due to inflation said, ‘What can I do, I have no magic button’.”
“You say that one should not assume office without preparation, but you were not elected by the masses.
“Those who brought you to power will have to step back,” she said.
Maryam said that “the corrupt” are pardoned, whereas political leaders are “thrown into jail, shot down and made to face the courts”.
“But you can never send to the gallows or exile a political ideology […] which is why, there is no one to take your name, but in every corner of Pakistan, there are people to take Nawaz Sharif and Benazir Bhutto’s names.”
She also paid tribute to the late Justice Waqar Ahmed Seth for convicting Gen. Pervez Musharraf, “who is the killer of Benazir and of the Constitution”.
“Pakistan’s doors will InshaAllah always remain closed to Musharraf […] We will always remember his courage to uphold the Constitution. We will keep his memory alive,” Maryam said.
Speaking of PDM, she said it is a movement that has gathered all provinces under the banner of the Constitution.
She said “only one person seems to be standing alone, failing, losing. The culprit is seeking NRO from PDM”.
“The dream to cause a rift between PDM parties will never come true,” Maryam said.
“You are not at war with the PDM but with 220 million citizens,” she said, adding: “Taabedaar Khan, you have lost this battle.”
National Party President Abdul Malik Baloch spoke of the parliament “being taken hostage” and how farmers are “dying of hunger”.
He also spoke out against what he termed the “occupation” of the islands of Balochistan, saying that the people do not accept this.
“The government in power today is a slap in the face of democracy,” he added.
Sardar Akhtar Mengal, Chief of Balochistan National Party Mengal Group, said: “We also have love for the soil of Sindh. Relations between Sindh and Balochistan predate Pakistan.”
He said that even “dictatorship” has been unable to put a dent in these ties.
Awami National Party senior vice president Haider Khan Hoti said he presents salutations to the sacrifices rendered by “Bibi shaheed” (Benazir Bhutto).
“Zardari sahab, I remember your loyalty to Pakhtuns,” he added.
“The way you supported us, I will support Bilawal, like an elder brother,” Hoti said.
He recalled how Benazir was unafraid to return to the country, despite various threats to her life.
“Standing at the shrine of martyrs today, I promise not to leave the path of service,” the ANP leader declared.
The visit of the Opposition leaders to Larkana comes as the PDM prepares for phase two of its anti-government drive.
PPP chairperson Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari and Aseefa Bhutto-Zardari received various political leaders as they began arriving in Larkana in the early morning hours. This included a PML-N delegation led by Maryam Nawaz.
The PML-N delegation included Captain (retd) Safdar, Pervez Rashid, Maryam Aurangzeb, Muhammad Zubair, Muftah Ismail, and Shah Muhammad Shah.
PPP leaders Faryal Talpur and Sherry Rehman also joined the PPP delegation in welcoming the PML-N leader.
The PDM leaders were scheduled to then visit the mausoleum of Shaheed Benazir Bhutto to pay their respects.
After the rally today, a dinner in honour of PDM leaders will be hosted at Bhutto House, Naudero.
Benazir’s 13th death anniversary
Benazir, the central figure behind PPP before her husband Asif Ali Zardari and their son PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari took up the party’s reins, was assassinated in a gun and bomb attack in Rawalpindi on December 27, 2007.
Garhi Khuda Bakhsh is a village in Larkana which houses the family graveyard of the Bhutto family — Zulfiqar, Murtaza, and Benazir Bhutto, are all buried there.
Benazir took oath as the first female prime minister of Pakistan on December 2, 1988. She was also the first woman to lead a Muslim state and twice served as the prime minister of Pakistan.
The Sindh government has announced a public holiday on account of the death anniversary of the former premier.