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July 15, 2018

Bilawal suspends rallies in KP, Balochistan

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July 15, 2018

PESHAWAR: The Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Chairman, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, on Saturday suspended his political activities in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) in the wake of the terrorist attacks in the KP and Balochistan.

Speaking at a news conference at the residence of former PPP provincial president and candidate for PK-77 Peshawar, Syed Zahir Ali Shah, he said hurdles are being created for his party in the election campaign and the PPP is not getting a level playing field. Flanked by his party’s former senator Farhatullah Babar, provincial president Humayun Khan and others, he however said he would go to meet the workers in Malakand. “There would be no rallies. I would just meet the people in the constituency,” he added. The PPP chairman said he has been told not to move out of Peshawar Cantonment and also not hold rallies in the KP.

Bilawal is contesting election from the National Assembly constituency NA-8, Malakand, and his party has chalked out programmes to hold big public meetings in Peshawar, Mardan, Malakand and Dera Ismail Khan during his visit to KP. “How can we continue our election campaign when the people are burying the victims of terrorist attacks,” he argued. He added his party cannot put the lives of its workers at risk by holding public meetings. “Instead of holding public meetings and rallies, we will carry our campaigns through press conferences,” he said.

The PPP chairman said the National Action Plan, chalked out in the wake of the December 2014 attack on Army Public School in Peshawar, was not implemented in letter and spirit. “The PPP would make an action plan against terrorism and implement it in the true sense if voted to power,” he promised. The PPP chairman said the ANP and the Balochistan Awami Party were attacked with bombs, while the PPP leaders are also being asked to avoid election campaign. “In several areas we were obstructed. Some of my workers were asked to quit the PPP,” he alleged.

Bilawal said despite problems, the PPP would not boycott elections. He pointed out the PPP has always demanded timely elections. He alleged pre-poll rigging is continuing in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, adding, their candidates are being forced to change political loyalties. “Attempts are being made to form Islami Jamhoori Ittehad-like alliance,” he maintained. He said bureaucracy in other provinces hasbeen reshuffled, but no such postings and transfers were carried out in KP. He demanded the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to take notice of the pre-poll rigging in the province. He said he is fully aware of the feelings of the relatives of the victims of Mastung tragedy and would not chant slogans to draw political mileage. He announced he would soon visit Mastung to express solidarity with the families of the victims.

Besides NA-200 Larkana and NA-246 Karachi, the PPP chairman is contesting election from NA-8 Malakand, which comprises the whole of Malakand district. He is facing former PTI MNA Junaid Akbar, MMA’s Maulana Gul Naseeb Khan and candidates from ANP and PML-N and some independents in Malakand.

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