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Thousands Gather at Benazir Death Anniversary

Thousands Gather at Benazir Death Anniversary

Pakistan News, Benazir Death Anniversary : Thousands of people had gathered on Thursday to mark the fifth anniversary of the assassination of former Pakistan Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, and to witness her son launch his own political career.

More than 200,000 people gathered at the family mausoleum in Garhi Dera Bakhsh in Sindh to pay their respects and to hear Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, the son of Benazir and of President Asif Ali Zardari, make his first major public speech.

Security was tight around a huge stage, adorned with the red, black and green tricolour of the ruling Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), where Oxford-educated Bilawal will speak.

Surveillance helicopters hovered overhead as police commandos stood alert and sniffer dogs searched for explosives. Police said more than 15,000 officers had been deployed, as well as some 500 government paramilitary forces.

Bhutto, twice elected prime minister, was killed in a gun and suicide attack after an election rally in Rawalpindi on December 27, 2007. No one has ever been convicted of her murder.

Bilawal was just 19 when his mother was killed, and his spokesman Aijaz Durrani said Thursday’s anniversary would mark the start of a new chapter in Pakistan’s political history.

“This is his political career’s first public meeting. A new Bhutto is emerging today in the shape of Bilawal who has vision of his mother and grandfather and people are excited on his launching,” he told AFP.

“Let us resolve to defeat the forces of extremism and terrorism and work for the progress and prosperity of the country,” said Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf in a statement.

Bilawal, who has been co-chairman of the PPP with his father since Benazir’s death, in May accused former military ruler Pervez Musharraf of “murdering” his mother by deliberately sabotaging her security.

A UN report in 2010 also said the murder could have been prevented and accused Musharraf’s government of failing to protect Bhutto properly.

The Musharraf regime blamed the assassination on Pakistani Taliban chief Baitullah Mehsud, who denied any involvement and was killed in a US drone attack in August 2009. AFP

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