Various political leaders of the Pakistan Democratic Movement have begun addressing crowds gathered at Garhi Khuda Bakhsh in Larkana to commemorate the 13th death anniversary of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto.
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.
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.
Arrival of PDM leaders
The visit of the Opposition leaders comes as the PDM prepares for phase two of its anti-government drive.
PPP chairperson Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari and Aseefa Bhutto-Zardari received leaders from various Opposition parties 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.