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Along Bilawal’s campaign trail -- II


July 11, 2018

You have to see it to understand it. Sindh is seriously an agro-based society. Miles upon miles of fruit orchards and cultivated land. Therefore, water matters! Being the lower riparian, water scarcity is their biggest fear. And days of a future foretold are already upon us. Upper riparian building large dams brings that fear out and kicks in the survival instinct.

We reached Nawabshah around 4am and were welcomed by a jubilant crowd. We left Nawabshah after a press conference and started our journey towards Sukkur, reaching there around 6am , greeted by former opposition leader, Syed Khurshid Shah. Hats off to party workers and crowds for their perseverance. Bilawal Bhutto’s on average is making 15 speeches a day and his voice is almost gone. Other than his manifesto and promises therein of programmes for the farmers and the poor through Benazir Kissan Card and Bhook Mitao programme, he has been consistently talking about censored democracy. In fact, he has been talking about it since long when it all started. He is the only mainstream political leader to have done so. Wherever we went, we heard complaints by our candidates of harassment and pressure by powers that matter. Former opposition leader Khurshid Shah has gone to the extent of complaining about it in a letter to former President Asif Zardari. This is disturbing news. From my point of view, if the aim is to pave way for a particular “ladla”, then this is bad news for democracy. I foresee choppy waters ahead. Serious questions on credibility of elections will be raised. If Imran Khan could land up in Islamabad with four seats, what would stop other parties from following the same course? Just a thought. Currently, the international isolation we are in, can the powers that matter afford internal disturbance and finger pointing in one direction? Can our economy afford that?

There is one man I think who deserves a special mention. Former Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah. Old man’s spirit is unbeatable!! He has been with us shoulder to shoulder. On top of a purpose built truck for political activities, he sits quietly in a corner in smelting heat; springs into action the moment the truck is slowed down by welcoming crowds, takes to the railings, waves to them and waits for his turn to be called to address the larger crowds.

Hospitality runs deep in our culture. Wherever we camped for the night, our hosts went out of the way to make us comfortable. In Hyderabad Naveed Qamar, in Nawabshah Dr Azra and Khurshid Shah in Sukkur. They opened their houses, their friends’ and cousins’ houses for us and the hundreds travelling with us.

As I write these words, we have had another day of travel and have entered Punjab in the early hours of morning. Makhdoom Ahmed Mahmood, South Punjab President, greeted us on the border along with hundreds of party workers.

We have travelled hundreds of miles and nowhere I saw the dreary picture of crumbling infrastructure that is painted by the media. From Karachi to Hyderabad via Thatta and Badin. From Hyderabad to Nawabshah to Sukkur and from there to Punjab border. All main roads are good. This has only one explanation. We’ve been really bad in telling our story. Media management is not our forte.

I think it was Maula Ali (AS) who said that a man’s true nature is revealed when you travel with him. Bilawal Bhutto is a brave and a courageous man. Quite a statement on my part. Right? Couple of things have led me to believe this. I’d think a gazillion times before popping out of my car’s sunroof if I knew that they were out there to get me. Yet he does it rubbishing all advice. His decision to go back to the place where we were attacked in Lyari was against advice too. On our way to Sukkur, party workers had arranged a reception in Pir Juo Goth (Pir Pagaro’s village). We were hours behind schedule and some advised against going in a tense environment. He decided not to let the workers down. We reached there about 3 in the morning and our reception was phenomenal!

Senator Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar is Spokesman to the Chairman PPP, Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari (This is part two of the write up compiled during the various visits of the PPP Chairman. Earlier part was carried on July 5 )

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