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RAWALPINDI: For the first time since her assassination on December 27, 2007, the Rawalpindi PPP chapter did not celebrate former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto’s birth anniversary on Tuesday.
Till last year, the party would arrange events to observe the former prime minister’s birthday and for nine years, set up blood donation camps at the place of her assassination in Liaquat Bagh.
This year, various party leaders observed the day on their own while there was no event at the party level, for which local party leaders and workers blame the lack of formal leadership in the party.
PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari dissolved the party’s organisations in the four provinces on April 13 and there is still no one to lead the party in Punjab and its 36 districts after a five-member organising committee did not finalise the party composition.
For three months now, the party’s offices in front of Liaquat Bagh have remained locked up, leaving workers with nowhere to observe the birth anniversary of their late leader, which they usually did in the party’s offices.
Three separate events were hosted by local leaders on Tuesday. Former president of the party’s Rawalpindi chapter Amir Fida Paracha arranged a small gathering at his residence in Waris Khan Mohallah while a worker’s group led by Naheed Khan gathered at Liaquat Bagh Monday night to observe the birth anniversary. Another function was hosted at the Flashman’s Hotel by some new comers to the party as well.
“Former local party heads should have arranged an event so that workers would have had somewhere to celebrate the birthday of their leader,” said Nasir Mir, former opposition leader, Rawal Town Council.
Local leaders who have benefited from the party’s governments in Azad Jammu and Kashmir, Sindh and Gilgit Baltistan have not arranged such an event for eight years he said.
“The former president of the local chapter is the acting president and he should arrange such events, but he is more interested in other things,” he said.
Many of the party’s old workers are leaving to join the PTI but the party’s leaders do not make an effort to understand the reasons behind them leaving and resolving issues in order to prevent this from happening, he said.
“Bilawal should visit the city and meet local workers if he wants to revive the party. In the past, a select few would be invited to Bilawal House and not loyal workers,” he said.
Talking to Dawn, former president of the PPP Rawalpindi chapter Amir Fida Paracha said the party had stopped with the blood donation camps because the blood would spoil and go to waste in the hot weather. He said this was the first time the birth anniversary of the late leader was not celebrated by the party.
He added that an event will be held later to observe Benazir’s birthday as soon as a senior party leader was available to attend and said the event was postponed on account of the hot weather as well.
PPP workers’ leader Ibne Rizvi, former senator Sardar Saleem, Malik Mazhar and others also arranged separate events in Liaquat Bagh Monday night.
Talking to Dawn, Ibne Rizvi said PPP workers wanted to revive the party and follow in the footsteps of Benazir Bhutto and Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto and that they will not accept new policies brought in by Asif Ali Zardari.
He said the party had forgotten workers on the birthday of their slain leader and that workers had arranged separate events.
“Where are the local leaders who made money during the last PPP government in the centre? Raja Pervaiz Ashraf and other senior leaders are afraid of the workers and want to avoid meeting them,” he said.