NAUDERO: President Asif Ali Zardari said on Monday his Pakistan People’s Party had expressed reservations over the United Nations’ inquiry report on the assassination of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto because it was “incomplete and did not touch certain issues”.
“The national and all provincial assemblies had adopted resolutions calling for UN inquiry into the assassination. The PPP welcomed the UN inquiry, but since the probe report had been incomplete and unclear and did not touch certain issues, it voiced its reservations,” Mr Zardari, who is also co-chairman of the PPP, said at a meeting held here to mark the third anniversary of Benazir’s assassination.
A large member of PPP workers and supporters from all over Sindh and other parts of the country converged here to pay tribute to the slain leader.
A considerable number of people not belonging to the PPP, including a delegation on the Muttahida Qaumi Movement, also came to Garhi Khuda Bakhsh and offered fateha and laid wreaths on Benazir’s grave.
The meeting was held at the President’s Camp Office and because of security concerns only selected people had been invited.
Separate arrangements were made for rank and file PPP workers at a place in Garhi Khuda Bakhsh and they watched the proceedings of the Camp Office meeting on large screens put up for the purpose.
President Zardari said that Benazir herself sought a UN probe after her home-coming procession had been attacked in Karachi.
“We have fulfilled our promises made to the nation and Benazir. We know the killers but we don’t consider them as our enemy, either it was Baituallh Mehsud or anyone else…it’s an ideology and mindset which we should eliminate,” he added.
The PPP was following the vision of Benazir Bhutto who believed that “democracy is the best revenge”, Mr Zardari said as the audience raised slogans of “Jeay Bhutto” and “Zinda Hai Bibi Zinda Hai”.
But in the town many PPP diehards expressed anger and exasperation that although their party had been in power since BB’s assassination it had failed to unravel the mystery of the murder and get hold of the culprits.
The slogan of “BB hum sharminda hain, tere qatil zinda hain” was repeatedly heard in the town.
PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, his sisters Bakhtawar and Aasifa, federal and provincial ministers, members of the Senate and national and provincial assemblies and leaders and office-bearers of the PPP from across the country attended the meeting.
The president claimed that good governance in Punjab was possible only because of the PPP, which was a partner in the provincial coalition government, and said that the PML-N should not have any problem now. “We are working and cooperating with it (PML-N government in Punjab).”
He said it was the PPP which had persuaded the PML-N leadership to contest the 2008 elections and then removed former president Gen (retd) Pervez Musharraf as demanded by the PML-N.
He said the country was burning after the assassination of Benazir, but instead of waging a revolt the PPP accepted the postponement of elections and foiled the designs of the enemy to create disunity and destabilise the country.
President Zardari said the present government would complete its five-year term and pledged to hold the next general elections in a fair and transparent manner to take the process of democracy forward.
He said he was taking all coalition partners along in accordance with the vision of Benazir, adding that the PPP had nurtured democracy with its blood and sacrificed lives of its leaders and workers.
The president spoke about various issues and challenges faced by the country as well as achievements of the PPP government over the past three years, including restoration of the 1973 Constitution, NFC Award, Aghaz-i-Haqooq-i-Balochistan, reinstatement of judges, Benazir Income Support Programme, women empowerment measures, autonomy to Gilgit-Baltistan and renaming of the NWFP as Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
Benazir, he said, made him the trustee of her children and the country, adding that Bilawal, Bakhtawar and Aasifa were in institutions where their mother had received her education.
“PPP workers have to be patient before the children of Benazir undertake the journey for the cause of Pakistan.”
The president said Gen Musharraf, who had failed to provide security to Benazir, used to say he would not allow her to return to Pakistan and now parliament would decide whether or not he should return.
Mr Zardari said that parliament had revived the 1973 Constitution and he returned his presidential powers to it so that nobody could ask Bilawal in future why his party did not take such steps when in power.
“The 1973 Constitution unites the federation and protects rights of the provinces and removes their sense of deprivation. As laws are in place, now it will be the duty of the next generation to take steps to strengthen democracy.”
The president said the NFC award and Balochistan package gave rights to the provinces and now Pakistan was moving in the direction charted by Benazir.
“Now the people of Balochistan are thinking that they should stay with Pakistan, but their wounds of over 60 years are deep and a sense of deprivation is still there. Therefore, more needs to be done,” he said.
He said that those who had killed Benazir had a particular mindset and his party was responding to their act of cruelty by fighting for democracy everywhere.
“Pakistan is going through a phase of democratic transition and during its three years in power the government has taken steps to resolve people’s problems.”
Mr Zardari said that as desired by Benazir, the PPP government reinstated the Chief Justice of Supreme Court and raised the flag on his residence.