ISLAMABAD - The historic Liaquat Bagh, the assassination site of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, was abandoned by top leadership of Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) on the occasion of BB’s 8th death anniversary.

Instead the place where Benazir was assassinated on December 27, 2007 has been handed over to workers to observe the anniversary. Most of the workers that pay homage to their slain leader have now developed serious differences with the top leadership of the PPP.

Each year on December 27, Naheed Khan, then political secretary to Benazir Bhutto, gathers a sizeable number of disgruntled party activists to offer prayers for the soul of the slain prime minister and distributes food among people.

On Sunday when the main ceremony was held in Garhi Khuda Bux to mark the 8th death anniversary of Benazir Bhutto and was attended by the first tier of the PPP, Liaquat Bagh posed almost a deserted look. But in the afternoon, a group of PPP workers emerged from the nearby party’s secretariat under the leadership of former MNA Zamurd Khan, who belongs to Rawalpindi district, and chanted slogans praising the current leadership of the party while holding candles in their hands.

Unlike past, nobody donated blood in Rawalpindi on Sunday due to poor attendance of mourners.

“This time we could not donate blood though each year blood is contributed by workers to pay homage to our inspirational leader (Benazir Bhutto).

But our loyalists continued the blood giving tradition at Garhi Khuda Bux,” said Shujaat Haider Naqvi, information secretary PPP Rawalpindi, when asked.

Similarly, the disgruntled leaders of the party who used to ensure their presence at Liaquat Bagh on the occasion too left for Larkana, though in the previous seven years they used to limit their activities to the historic public park.

Naheed Khan and her spouse Dr Safdar Abbasi, who have got registered their new party Pakistan People’s Party-Workers, left for Garhi Khuda Bux to attend the main gathering.

Malik Mazhar Hussain, who was famous for chanting slogan in public rallies of Benazir Bhutto, is now an estranged worker and wants the PPP leadership to expose the killers of his slain leader.

He distributes food among the destitute each year at Liaquat Bagh on the death anniversary of Benazir Bhutto.

“Liaquat Bagh should be a significant place for the PPP. It is the place where our leader was assassinated. It would have been great if Bilawal Zardari had addressed the function here.

It is sad the place poses a deserted look,” Hussain who is now loyal to Naheed Khan’s faction of PPP said.

He said the PPP even failed to construct a mausoleum on the assassination place despite being in government, adding the portrait of Benazir Bhutto was placed on the site after collecting donations from the activists.