KARACHI: In a bid to reject an impression that it has lost ground in Lyari, the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) is set to stage a show of strength in its traditional stronghold on Sunday.
Amid strict security, PPP co-chairman and former president Asif Ali Zardari will go to Lyari to address the public meeting at the famed Kakri ground, where he had tied the knot with Benazir Bhutto over 27 years ago.
Strict security measures have been taken for the public meeting, which is being organised by the party’s Karachi division, and thousands of policemen have been deployed on key points in Lyari to prevent any possible attack by Lyari gangsters.
When asked as to why the party was holding such a big event in Lyari now, senior PPP leader Senator Saeed Ghani said: “There was an impression that the PPP had been eliminated from Lyari and we want to show that this perception is wrong.”
He said that another reason to hold the rally was to prepare for the upcoming local government elections. “There has been no [political] activity [in the city] for a considerable period of time and, you know, the local government elections are approaching.”
He said that Lyari was — and would always be — the PPP’s stronghold.
The PPP last organised such a major political event on October 18, 2014 when party chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari launched his short-lived political career.
Residents of the violence-hit Lyari had stayed away from the Oct 18 rally because of the defunct Peoples Amn Committee (PAC) which boycotted the event after the senior PPP leadership refused to withdraw criminal cases against Uzair Jan Baloch and others.
The banned PAC and gang warfare had seriously damaged the PPP’s political influence in Lyari and even its elected representatives in the previous national and provincial assembly were not allowed to visit their constituencies.
The situation became so bad for the PPP that it had to award party tickets to the nominees of the PAC for one national assembly and two provincial assembly seats in Lyari for the 2013 general election.
The PPP heaved a sigh of relief after the launch of a targeted operation in the metropolis in which many gangsters were killed in encounters and their ringleaders fled the country.
While the situation is still fragile in the city’s oldest neighbourhood, the PPP is trying to regain its lost ground, as of the 20 National Assembly seats in Karachi, the only seat it won in the 2013 general election was the Lyari constituency (NA-248).
The elected representatives from Lyari — MNA Shahjehan Baloch, MPA and provincial minister Javed Nagori and MPA Sania Naz — are also working alongside the PPP-Karachi division to make the event a success.
Senator Ghani, who is the PPP’s parliamentary party leader in the upper house of parliament, said that the situation in Lyari was much better now. However, he agreed that security remained a challenge in the area for which effective arrangements were being made.
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The 2018 Boao Forum for Asia (BFA) annual conference is scheduled for April 8 to 11 in Boao, Hainan Province. The forum will be themed "An Open and Innovative Asia for a World of Greater Prosperity."
— The Daily Mail - People's Daily