10 years after BB’s murder, PPP eyes power again

ISLAMABAD –  Ten years after two-time prime minister Benazir Bhutto was assassinated, her Pakistan People’s Party is again eyeing power.

Months after her death in 2007, the PPP had won the 2008 elections and formed government in the centre. The PPP-led government was criticised for failing to punish the killers. Five years after completing their term in 2013, the PPP, led by Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and his father, Asif Ali Zardari, is once again expecting the people to vote for them – with an outside chance of partial victory.

With the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz and the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf competing for majority of seats in the Punjab, the share for the PPP seems increasingly low.

But the senior Zardari believes only two dozen seats from the Punjab for the National Assembly could do the trick.

The gathering at Benazir Bhutto’s mausoleum today (December 27) is aimed at mobilising the PPP workers and achieve the target of doing well in the 2018 polls.

Bilawal and Zardari are expected to make some fiery speeches to please the diehard PPP workers.

Benazir Bhutto was assassinated when she finished addressing a rally in Rawalpindi on December 27, 2007 in a gun-and-bomb attack.

Then military ruler Pervez Musharraf blamed Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud for the killing.

But a UN investigation report said lack of adequate security was the main reason behind the successful attack by the terrorists. This automatically questions Musharraf’s role as he was asked for security, a number of times by the late Bhutto.

However, Musharraf – who denies any role in the murder – is just a co-accused in the case.

Bhutto’s chief security officer Rehman Malik, a sitting senator, blamed the judicial system for delay in punishment to the killers. The former interior minister said Benazir Bhutto’s assassins would long have met their fate, if Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry – the then chief justice – was sincere.

Malik said the PPP had not thrown the murder case into cold storage; rather it wanted a “hot trial”.

“We are the victims, we want the killers to be punished,” he said.

Malik said prosecutor Zulfikar Chaudhry – who according to him was doing a splendid job – was killed as he was closing in to get the killers punished.

PPP Vice President Senator Sherry Rehman said Benazir Bhutto wanted to be among the people until her death.

She said the PPP would continue Benazir Bhutto’s mission and hoped to win majority of the seats in the National Assembly.

“We are optimistic to perform better in Punjab. The last elections were largely rigged,” she said.

In a message on Benazir Bhutto’s death anniversary, Asif Ali Zardari said the party would fight the barbarians seeking to take over the state and install what they called caliphate.

“Their agenda is no different from that of Daesh in Iraq and Syria, Al–Shabab in Kenya and Boko Haram in Nigeria. We also pay homage to those fighting the militants as well as those who suffered exile, imprisonment and execution in fighting dictatorship,” he said.

Zardari said the party saluted Benazir Bhutto’s vision about Pakistan as a modern and progressive state, and for her commitment to fight armed religious fanatics from hijacking the state and society in the name of religion.

“She knew full well that the hounds of extremism and religious fanaticism were out to remove her from their path. She also had the choice to opt for an easy path and not resist the fanatics. But she had a dream and a vision for the people of Pakistan. For the realisation of this dream she laid down her life, while leading the fight from the front. Today as we pay her homage our heads also bow in gratitude,” he said.

Zardari added: “Such is the stuff of which the leaders and workers of the Pakistan People’s Party are made. The party is proud of its inspirational leaders.”

He said the PPP acknowledged Benazir Bhutto and other martyrs who laid down their lives in the fight for upholding the values of democracy, constitutionalism and rule of law.

“If militants have not succeeded in their designs it is because of their sacrifices, we salute them all,” Zardari said.

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