LAHORE - Though under the garb of an ‘Eid Milan Party’, President Asif Ali Zardari has finally decided to mingle up with the people by addressing a big public gathering at Malakwal, Mandi Bahauddin, on Wednesday (today), thereby giving an opportunity to his critics and the apex court to question his political role in the wake of court verdict on Asghar Khan case.  

Today’s public address of the President at Malakwal, his first public appearance in Punjab after the 2008 election rally at Faisalabad, is very important; because, it is coming at the heels of Supreme Court’s judgement in Asghar Khan case, asking the President to remain apolitical.

This would also be his first public address in Punjab as President and as Co-Chairman of a political party, though he has already addressed around half a dozen public meetings at Garhi Khuda Bakhsh in the last over four years.   

The organisers are anticipating a large crowd at the ‘Eid Milan Party’, an event, which, otherwise, would be a public gathering by any standard.  

“We are expecting well over 100,000 people attending the Eid Milan”, PPP legislator from Mandi Bahauddin, Maj (Retd) Zulfiqar Gondal told this scribe on telephone. According to him, it would be the largest ‘Eid Milan Party’ ever addressed by a President.

He said all arrangements to hold the event at the hockey ground of Government High School Malakwal were complete.

It has been learnt that President may announce Rs 4 billion development package as ‘Eid gift’ for the residents, as this much amount has already been sanctioned for various development projects in the district. But there is a possibility that President may not make mention of it in his speech to avoid legal complexities that may ensue.  

Giving details, Zulfiqar Gondal said that Rs 300 million have been sanctioned for rural electrification, Rs 200 million for supply of Sui Gas to 30 villages, Rs 300 million for construction of Gojra-Malakwal Road, Rs 250 million for Shamohana Road and Rs 200 million for construction of Benazir Bhutto Bridge on River Jhelum.

It may be recalled here that the meeting now being held on Wednesday was deferred twice because of President’s indecision over his political role. President Zardari had himself announced at Governor House, Lahore to address the rally on October 25, but it was postponed till November 5 after the SC judgement in Asghar Khan case.

It was deferred again till November 14, but this time around, the President has decided to address the public gathering, though in the guise of an ‘Eid Milan Party’, a nomenclature, which may provide him a legal cover to avoid any possible action by the apex court.