Benazir to go ahead with Pindi meeting

By Shamim-ur-Rehman

KARACHI, Oct 30: Expressing concern over the bomb blast in Rawalpindi and the deteriorating law and order situation in Swat, Pakistan People’s Party chairperson Benazir Bhutto accused the government on Thursday of having failed to apprehend culprits involved in terrorist attacks. She also vowed to go ahead with her planned public meeting in Rawalpindi on November 9.

She was talking to a private TV channel during a visit to the Dr Ziauddin Hospital in Clifton where she had gone to inquire after the health of the people injured in the October 18 attack. She also got herself checked up for fatigue.

“I will go to Rawalpindi despite the bomb blast today and will hold public meeting on Nov 9 according to the party’s decision,” Ms Bhutto said. However, she said it had been decided not to hold a procession for security reasons.

“We’ll not take out a rally because of security concerns. Although party workers and sympathisers are ready to join our rallies in large numbers, but terrorists could conveniently strike such programmes.”

But she also said that it was the government’s responsibility to prevent acts of terrorism.

Referring to the situation in Swat, Waziristan and other tribal areas, Ms Bhutto accused the government of mishandling the situation. “People of Swat region are facing serious insecurity because of deteriorating law and order conditions,” she said.

Accusing the establishment of patronising people who were responsible for the situation, she alleged that agencies had propped up terrorists.

She said that secret agencies had ‘created’ Nek Mohammad in Waziristan, Ghazi Abdur Rashid in Lal Masjid and Maulana Fazlullah in Swat, who were behind localised instabilities, paving way for rapid deterioration of the law and order situation.

“Authorities have failed to apprehend people involved in acts of terrorism. Their arrests could help end such acts,” she claimed.

Ms Bhutto insisted that the October 18 blast had taken place in a white car which could not be spotted because of lack of lighting. Blaming the Intelligence Bureau for the attack, she said the remnants of Ziaul Haq were responsible for subversive activities.

Meanwhile, Ms Bhutto has summoned a meeting of the party’s central executive committee and federal council at Bilawal House on Wednesday to discuss the political and security situation.

According to sources, the meeting will discuss the Oct 18 attack and the manner in which the inquiry is being conducted by the government and the threatening posture adopted by some PML leaders, including Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain and Arbab Ghulam Rahim.

The meeting was also expected to discuss ways of making the government agree to let foreign experts help investigate the incident, said the sources.

The meeting is likely to evolve a strategy to counter the moves being made to unify the anti-Bhutto vote “with the blessings of General Pervez Musharraf”.

The sources believed that Nawaz Sharif also was not allowed to stay in Pakistan unless he agreed to the proposition and that contacts with Mr Sharif were being renewed for the purpose.

The CEC will also discuss the implications of the recent outbursts of Chaudhry Shujaat and the Punjab and Sindh chief ministers and their likely impact on domestic security dynamics in the run-up to the elections.

The composition of the caretaker set-up is also expected to be discussed in the meeting.

Amir Wasim adds from Islamabad: PPP spokesman Farhatullah Babar told Dawn the party would also discuss its future relationship with the Musharraf regime. He said that since Ms Bhutto’s arrival in the country, the party had been facing “hostile actions”, including the regime’s reluctance to register the FIR of Ms Bhutto, demanding investigations into the October 18 bombing and action against the suspects. “The unwillingness of the regime to investigate such a high-profile case in which 140 people were killed and hundreds injured was puzzling and raised many questions,” he said.

Mr Babar said the CEC and FC members would also review the security situation and decide whether Ms Bhutto should address public meetings. He said if the party decided that Ms Bhutto should continue to take out rallies and attend public meetings, the meeting would also finalise a plan in this regard.

Mr Babar said that PPP’s vice-president Makhdoom Amin Fahim had held two meeting with Chaudhry Shujaat after Ms Bhutto’s return to the country.

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