ISLAMABAD - Pakistan People’s Party Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has decided not attend the death anniversary of former minister Shahbaz Bhatti and instead asked his close aides to represent him, The Nation has learnt. Sources said the PPP chief is likely to return to Pakistan on March 5 and will focus on Azad Jammu Kashmir’s election campaign during his stay in the country.

PPP sources told The Nation that earlier the party chief had conveyed senior leaders of PPP that he would attend the death anniversary of Shahbaz Bhatti on March 2 and the party had made all arrangements in this regard. But Bilwal changed his plan at eleventh hour and asked the senior party member Faisal Kareem Kundi and other leaders to attend the anniversary. In addition, he made sure that Kundi would read out his message on the occasion, sources added.

Talking to The Nation, Faisal Karim confirmed that Bilawal asked him to attend Bhatti’s death anniversary today on his behalf. He said he did not know the exact date of arrival of the PPP chairman in Pakistan.

Sources said that the prominent Kashmiri party leaders also reached Karachi to welcome the chairman and finalise schedule of his AJK’s visit. Bilawal would announce PPP official election campaign in public gathering during his visit, Sources added.

When contacted, senior AJK party leader Chaudhary Riaz told The Nation that he was present at the Bilawal House, Karachi along with other party leaders. He said that he would request the chairman to announce the official lection campaign on March 18 or 19 but the chairman will give the final approval in this connection.

After the Bilawal’s announcement, other PPP heavyweights would also address the public gatherings in different cities of AJK, he added.

Riaz said that the chairman had also met the AJK party office-bearers and other leaders in Islamabad and encouraged them to focus on upcoming elections during his visit.

Sources revealed that PPP chief can face strong reaction from Punjab leaders over Asif Zardari’s controversial statement during his next visit of Punjab. They said that he can change the Punjab party president Mian Manzoor Wattoo on basis of poor performance as three months deadline given to him has also completed.

The chairman had given the deadline with the instruction to address the complaints of workers. The Chairman also expressed displeasure over a resolution in Punjab Assembly tabled by Wattoo’s son regarding extension in service of army chief, sources added.

With the delay of party chief’s return to country and AJK election campaign, the process of party re-organisation in Punjab and KP can effect. However, he met the top leadership of Punjab and KP for party restructuring during his last visit of Lahore and Islamabad. He also met the office-bearers of PPP south Punjab and ensured them that he would come to south Punjab in the first week of March to address the party workers, which is not looking possible.

Bilawal asks govt to pass honour killing bill

Pakistan People’s Party chief Bilawal Bhutto Zardari yesterday asked the government to ‘shun hypocrisy’ and pass the Anti-Honour Killings Laws (Criminal Laws Amendment) Bill 2014.

In a statement, Bilawal said hundreds of women were butchered in the name of honour all over the country and killers walk away scot-free in the absence of tougher laws, which could hold them accountable and award exemplary punishment. “Honour killing has been used as Sword of Damocles against the womenfolk in some parts of our society where women live under constant fear,” he added.

Bilawal said the government must pass the Bill drafted and tabled by PPP in the Senate and passed one year ago in March 2015 to eliminate the inhuman acts of honour killings.

“There is no honour in killing a human,” he said, adding that all the killings in the name of honour, especially the women should be declared a heinous and unpardonable crime to save the victims of horrible custom, which has nothing to do with our civilization or history.

The PPP chief said that PPP legislators put hard work in drafting Anti-Honour Killings Laws (Criminal Laws Amendment) Bill, 2014 and finally were able to pass it through the Senate of Pakistan but Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s government has put it into shelves of National Assembly.

“Holding the said Bill in pending for one long year by the government is tantamount to promotion of honour killing,” he said and urged the political parties and the civil society to mount pressure on the rulers to complete the legislation initiated by the PPP.

Bilawal said it was the dream of his mother Benazir Bhutto to provide equal opportunities and protection to the women and adoption of Anti-Honour Killings Laws (Criminal Laws Amendment) Bill, 2014 will be a landmark achievement to realize this dream.

He also directed the PPP parliamentary party in the National Assembly to start lobbying in the House for smooth-sailing of the Bill and hold dialogues in this regard with other parties in the National Assembly.