LAHORE - The PPP is pinning high hopes on Bilawal’s upcoming Punjab visit which it thinks would go a long way in galvanizing the party in a province which saw its political annihilation in the last general elections.

“The PPP Punjab leaders and workers consider his arrival as a big breakthrough for the party that is so critical to severing the fetters of status quo the country’s society is embroiled in now”, party’s central Punjab President Mian Manzoor Ahmad Wattoo said while addressing a Press conference here on Wednesday.  If the arrival schedule is not altered due to security situation in the country, the PPP’s Patron-in-Chief plans to visit Lahore in the second week of March. Provincial leadership is busy making schedule of his meetings with party’s divisional office-bearers and Lahore leaders.

After chairing a party meeting, Wattoo told reporters that PPP leaders and workers were excited and passionately looking forward to welcome Bilawal Bhutto Zardari in Lahore in a befitting manner to make his visit a historic success.  He said that Bilawal’s unequivocal stance against terrorism and extremism right from the beginning was marked with clarity and the recent swinging of the public opinion and the rest of the political forces to his stand including Imran Khan vindicated his vision that the evil could only be tackled by taking on the militants on their turf.

He made it quite clear that PPP does not endorse MQM chief’s views aired on local TV channels in which he urged the Army to take over the country if civilian leadership fails to defeat the TTP.  “PPP firmly believes that the Army and civilian leadership is a winning combination when they are on the same page. MQM chief’s assertion amounts to re-birth of doctrine of necessity that eroded the ideological basis of Pakistan as envisioned by the Founder of Pakistan and Shaheed Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto and Shaheed Benazir Bhutto”, he observed.

He asserted that the PPP extended full support to the government to combat extremism and terrorism because Co-Chairman declared in categorical terms that PPP would not do politics on this issue.  He pointed out that the appeasement policy of the government had proved futile exercise and its continuity would yield no different results. “The bull should be taken by horns”, he added.  He said PPP strongly opposed the reported shift in country’s foreign policy towards Syria as the same would spread the sectarianism at home like a wild fire.

Secondly, he affirmed, Pakistan should not interfere in the internal affairs of other countries as a signatory to the UN Charter.

“This policy is bound to have negative fallout on our relations with our immediate brotherly country, Iran”, Wattoo remarked. He lamented that abandoning of Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline project under the US pressure spoke volumes of the Government’s weakness. “The project was the quickest solution of our energy problems, which was jointly inaugurated by the former President Asif Ali Zardari and the then Iranian President”, he said.

Answering a question about local elections, the PPP leader suspected that Punjab Government would continue to postpone Local Bodies elections due to the apprehension of suffering electoral debacle due to the unprecedented price-hike, serious law and order situation, surge in heinous crimes like kidnapping, robbery, murder and street crimes.

To a question, he said PPP Punjab strongly condemned the attitude of the Minister for Kashmir Affirms towards the elected government of AJK and urged that the Rules of Business must be adhered to in true letter and spirit.

On Sindh Festival, he said it was a great success because it enhanced the soft image of the country internationally in the wake of terrorism and extremism the country had been facing for more than 10 years.