–Only a few dozen show up for sit-in at Charing Cross
LAHORE: Despite promises of staging impressive demonstrations and strikes against the arrest of former president Asif Ali Zardari, Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) miserably failed to mobilise people during its protest in the Lahore on Wednesday.
The former president and party co-chairman was arrested by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) on Monday over his involvement in the fake accounts case being probed by the anti-graft body.
The party promised to put on a great show of solidarity with Zardari but only three dozen people showed up at the protest camp set up by the party at the Charing Cross area of the provincial capital. The protesters appeared at the camp wearing black ribbons on their upper arms but their sit-in failed to gain any traction and they left at 5 pm after being there for seven hours.
A lack of coordination was observed between different sectors of the party as the provincial leadership led the demonstration while the local leadership remained absent. PPP Parliamentary Leader Hassan Murtaza, Punjab Senior Vice President Aslam Gill, Punjab Deputy Secretary-General Usman Saleem Malik, Shazia Abid, Shahida Jabeen and Iftikhar Shahid were among the few party leaders who attended the protest.
Addressing the protesters, Hassan Murtaza said that NAB was functioning as the ‘Team-B’ of the government and the government had previously done the same for NAB. He added that there is a nexus between the government and the anti-graft body.
Speaking to Pakistan Today, the protesters said that PPP Lahore President Haji Azizur Rehman Chan was out of the country because of which he could not attend the protest whereas PPP Lahore General Secretary Israr Butt did not give a reason for his absence.
There was an environment of scepticism about the actual power of the party in Lahore but the notion was dismissed by Murtaza, who, while speaking to Pakistan Today, said that the party would soon fill the streets of the provincial capital with its workers. “Today’s protest was organised in a hurry and we informed everyone about it but I believe people refrained from coming because of severe heat,” he said, adding that the party was undergoing a reorganisation process in Punjab and Lahore.
Other party workers disagreed with Murtaza. They said that the party was losing its longstanding strategy of mobilising people and this was evident from the absence of local leadership in the protest. “We the ‘jiyalas’ are here to protest against the victimisation of our leaders but unfortunately no local leader is present here,” they said.
Meanwhile, a disgruntled party worker told this scribe the reason for the absence of important party workers and leaders. “Party leaders have disappointed the workers because in the past when people tried to approach them for resolving their issues, their concerns were ignored, which is why the people did not care to show up today,” he said, adding that the party should choose its local leadership carefully.