Daily Times : Thousands greet BB in Larkana

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Thousands greet BB in Larkana

* Ex-premier prays at father’s grave amid tight security
* Says there is still danger of attack
* No agreement on abolition of Article 58(2)b

October 28, 2007

LARKANA: Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Chairwoman Benazir Bhutto visited her father and founder of PPP Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s mausoleum in her ancestral village of Garhi Khuda Bux amid tight security on Saturday.

She remained inside the tomb for around an hour and prayed over the graves of the elder Bhutto and her brothers, Mir Murtaza Bhutto and Shahnawaz Bhutto.

Later, she inspected renovation and construction work at the tomb, and waved at the supporters gathered outside from a balcony. Reportedly, no one was allowed into the mausoleum prior to Benazir’s arrival, and even PPP legislators were not allowed in once she went inside.

Thousands of people waiting for her arrival outside the mausoleum since early in the morning raised placards and shouted slogans against the government and in favour of Benazir. Several diehard supporters were seen wearing dresses made out of PPP flags.

“I feel very emotional. I wanted to visit the tomb of my father, the leader of the people, and offer prayers,” Reuters quoted Bhutto as telling reporters afterwards, before being driven to her family home flanked by paramilitaries in jeeps mounted with machineguns.

Danger of attack: “There is still danger of attack, but Allah can protect everyone and I am not scared of these people [militants],” she added, saying she now felt better about her security.

“This great nation is not scared of a bomb explosion and terrorism,” she later told a news conference at her ancestral home. “We are against dictatorship. We believe that whenever there is dictatorship there is terrorism,” she added. “Good Muslims will never attack a woman. I will reach out to my people everywhere in Pakistan,” she said inside the mausoleum.

Earlier, as she left the plane at Sukkur airport, where she arrived, Bhutto kissed a copy of the holy Quran and a man wrapped a traditional Sindhi shawl around her shoulders. She waved at supporters who showered her with rose petals as she began the drive to Larkana.

“It’s a long time since I’ve been here, and I thank God for giving me the opportunity to put my feet on my homeland once again, to see the love of my people. This has strengthened me to do what I can to save Pakistan by saving democracy,” AFP quoted her as telling reporters on the airplane.

“The government should give compensation to the victims of the bomb blast.

It was the failure of the government,” Benazir told the press conference at her family home.

“There is an attempt by the extremists and the terrorists to dictate who should be allowed to hold public meetings and who should not,” Bhutto told reporters. “The agenda of the terrorists is to stop democratic parties from flourishing so they can continue to grow,” she added.

Benazir said the probe into the attack in Karachi should be conducted in a scientific manner, otherwise it would not be acceptable. She said she did not want a judicial inquiry at this stage. She said forensic and terrorism experts from the US or UK should be allowed to assist in the investigations.

No agreement on Article 58(2)b: She also told the press conference that no agreement had been reached in negotiations with the government on the abolition of Article 58(2)b of the Constitution, which allows the president, in his or her discretion, to dissolve the National Assembly if there is a constitutional breakdown in government, APP reported.

On the National Reconciliation Ordinance, Benazir said the cases made against her were not strong and the Cabinet signing the ordinance admitted that the cases were fabricated as revenge against her. This was a moral victory for her, she added.

Denying a deal with President Musharraf, she said the PPP had been negotiating for a transparent transition of power from military to civilian hands, with a neutral interim setup. She said the Chaudhry brothers had taken advantage of the absence of Nawaz Sharif and herself.

She also said she wanted good relations with the US.