JUL 1, 2018: Pakistan Peoples Party Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari’s convoy was rerouted after a mob stopped it and resorted to stone pelting in Karachi’s Lyari neighborhood on Sunday as he launched his party’s election campaign. Several PPP workers and passersby were injured.
Protesters, mostly youngsters, stopped the rally in Bihar Colony and attacked the convoy with sticks and stones, smashing the windows of several vehicles.
Bilawal’s convoy was stuck for half-an-hour as the police and PPP workers failed to calm the protesters.
The mob was shouting ‘Go Bilawal Go’. The windshield of a truck that was a part of the convoy was shattered during the violence.
The 29-year-old PPP chairman remained unhurt during the episode.
TV footage showed a group of supporters shouting pro-PPP slogans, and chants of “have some shame!”
The situation was controlled after a contingent of police that was deployed in the area dispersed the protesters.
Bilawal later addressed Lyari residents at Cheel Chowk and other stops.
Lyari is considered a traditional stronghold of the PPP and its chairman Bilawal is set to contest the July 25 general elections from the area’s NA-246 constituency as well as from Larkana in interior Sindh.
Hundreds of people lost their lives in gangland violence during the last decade in Lyari.
The restive neighborhood has seen relative calm after police and paramilitary forces launched a crackdown against criminal elements and militant wings of political parties in the metropolis.
There is however, resentment among Lyari residents over the poor state of affairs in the area. They accuse the PPP of failing to solve their issues, such as that of water shortage, and completing infrastructure projects that were promised by the party, despite its candidates’ election from the constituency since 2008. They are also reportedly unhappy over the award of party tickets by the PPP.
A statement issued in the evening quoted Bilawal as saying that he will not be deterred by the violence. “The media wrongly reported it as a protest against the PPP while we believe that it was done deliberately to create an atmosphere of fear creating hurdles for a peaceful election.”
Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf leader Faisal Vawda termed as “filmy” talk the suggestion by PPP leaders that his party may have egged the protesters on, saying any party, including the PTI, should have to face such a reaction if it hasn’t worked for people’s welfare.
Vawda said while he does not support the use of violence, he strongly appreciates citizens voicing their grievances through protests.
Meanwhile, Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan’s Mehfooz Yar Khan, who is a candidate from NA-246 Lyari, said he “strongly condemns” the suggestion that his party could have been behind the violence.