RAWALPINDI: Amid speeches of Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) leaders extolling Benazir Bhutto as an outstanding leader outside Liaquat Bagh on Monday, hammered by conspiracy theories workers were more interested in knowing who killed her and when the killers would be arrested.
The PPP decided to hold a public gathering in Liaquat Bagh on the third death anniversary of the former prime minister for the workers of Rawalpindi division, directing them not to go to Ghari Khuda Bux — the ancestral graveyard of the Bhuttos.
However, Monday’s small gathering of workers forced the organisers to shift the event to Liaquat Road, from the vast grounds of Liaquat Bagh.
Imtiaz Warraich, president of the party’s Punjab chapter, met with the leaders from Attock, Chakwal, Jhelum and Rawalpindi to finalise arrangements for the event. He had earlier asked the party leaders to bring ‘maximum’ number of workers to Rawalpindi.
Khurshid Nawaz, 28, was one of those workers present outside the Liaquat Bagh when the former prime minister was killed in a gun and bomb attack on December 27, 2007. As the gathering reverberated with the traditional ‘Jiye Bhutto’ slogans, Khurshid, a property dealer from Jhelum and other party workers, were chanting: ‘Benazir hum sharminda hein, tere qatil zinda hein’.
Standing at the place where he was three years ago when the tragedy struck, he said: “I was coming out of Liaquat Bagh chanting Jiye Bhutto, I heard a bullet sound followed by a powerful blast. Everybody ran for their life.”
Khurshid had hoped that the killers of his leader would be caught within days. “But days passed and the killers are still unexposed in a government run by no other than Benazir’s party,” he said.
Water and Power Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf, Leader of the House in Senate Nayyar Hussain Bukhari, Pakistan Baitul Maal (PBM) Managing Director Zamurud Khan and other PPP leaders, including Qazi Sultan, addressed the gathering. They paid rich tributes to Ms Bhutto for “sacrificing her life for democracy and Pakistan”. They were also confident that the PPP government would complete its five-year term.
“Those who killed Benazir Bhutto have failed as thousands are chanting ‘Jiye Bhutto. Today her party is in power and we will continue to rule the country as only PPP can give rights to people according to the vision of our leader,” said Minister Ashraf. Though the city and adjoining areas witnessed banners and posters about the third death anniversary of Ms Bhutto in Liaquat Bagh, the number of people was much less than projected by PPP leaders.
But Shujaat Haider Naqvi, PPP Rawalpindi’s information secretary, termed the gathering “impressive”, saying thousands of people in the morning left the venue after offering prayers for Ms Bhutto at the assassination site.
Meanwhile, Naheed Khan, political secretary to the slain prime minister, along with disgruntled party supporters came to Liaquat Bagh and offered Fateha. None of the PPP leaders present there joined her during the prayers, getting themselves busy in placing chairs on Liaquat Road. “At least they should have joined us in prayers,” Ibne Rizvi, a local PPP worker whose party membership was recently suspended, told Dawn.