By Mian Abrar
ISLAMABAD: The Bhutto family, feeling sidelined by the emergence of Asif Ali Zardari as the main power player after Benazir Bhutto’s death, is now bringing together many old PPP stalwarts to regain the Bhutto legacy.
Family sources say the stage is being set for the emergence of the PPP with the young Bhuttos spearheading a drive against the Zardaris. In this regard, Sassi Bhutto is going to lead a rally to Bhit Shah, the shrine of Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai, only a few kilometres from Amin Fahim’s hometown of Hala on Saturday.
“Sassi would reach Garhi Khuda Bakhsh Bhutto on Sunday to pay homage to the four great Bhuttos – Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, Murtaza Bhutto, Benazir Bhutto and, of course, Shahnawaz Bhutto, the father of young Sassi,” said a family source requesting anonymity.
“Sassi Bhutto is on a mission here in Pakistan – to get the politics, wealth, and property’s possession back from the Zardaris. Fatima Bhutto has taken the initiative to bring Sassi back and she had herself travelled to London for the purpose to unite the real Bhuttos.”
The source added the decision was finalised at a meeting of the elders of the Bhuttos along with party leaders and workers at 70-Clifton, Karachi, while the portraits of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, Murtaza Bhutto and Shahnawaz Bhutto had also been displayed at the main gate of the building.
“The entourage would leave Karachi for Bhit Shah along with media teams and workers. The arrangements for a welcome at Garhi Khuda Bakhsh have also been finalised as the visitors would arrive in Larkana by road from Karachi,” said the source.
“The real Bhuttos have a feeling that their ancestors and party loyalists have rendered sacrifices while the Zardari family has swept away the fruits,” said the source, adding the family thinks that the Zardaris had hijacked the party, property and the love of party workers, which were all assets of the Bhutto family.
“They also claim that Begum Nusrat Bhutto has been made a hostage,” said the source and added Fatima Bhutto and Zulfikar junior were also enraged by the treatment they were meted by Zardari and company on the funeral rituals held for Shaheed Benazir Bhutto at the Naudero House.
The source added Sassi Bhutto had already entered the political arena as she met hundreds of party workers, mostly old Jiyalas, at 70-Clifton, Karachi, during the last few days. In a bid to unite the family and discuss the issues, Fatima Bhutto hosted a dinner for the family that was attended by Sassi Bhutto, Zulfikar junior, Ghinwa Bhutto, Mumtaz Ali Bhutto and his younger son Ali Hyder.
On the other hand, the PPP-SB and the Sindh National Front (SNF) have agreed to a merger while Makhdoom Amin Fahim, Ghulam Mustafa Jatoi, Dr Ghulam Hussain and other senior leaders have assured Mumtaz Ali Bhutto of their total support.
When contacted, the SNF spokesperson confirmed the developments, adding the decision of uniting the Bhutto family was also discussed at a dinner hosted by Ghulam Mustafa Jatoi on June 28 at his residence, which was attended by Mumtaz Ali Bhutto and Makhdoom Amin Fahim.
“All the issues were discussed in detail at the meeting while the senior PPP leaders assured their full support to the Bhutto family. They were of the view that the time was ripe for a practical move against the Zardaris. It was also decided that all the sidelined and disgraced leaders of the party, including Nahid Khan, Dr Safdar Abbasi and Ghulam Mustafa Khar, would also be brought back into the fold,” he said.
He added most of the Jiyalas, diehard workers and party sympathisers had been disappointed by the Zardari-led PPP, which had created wide gaps between the new government and the masses.
“The leaders understand that the PPP has lost its public favour after the assassination of Benazir Bhutto and now the time is ripe to turn the public frustration into a positive political force,” the spokesman said.
The founding leaders of the PPP, Dr Ghulam Hussain and Dr Mubashar Hassan, have also been in contact with Mumtaz Ali Bhutto and backed the idea of a merger, he added.
The spokesman claimed that many Sindh MPAs also called on Mumtaz Ali Bhutto, in their respective constituencies, during his recent visit across Sindh and expressed their annoyance and desperation due to the policies adopted by Asif Zardari and expressed their eagerness to support the Bhutto family.
However, PPP MNA Shahid Hussain Bhutto, the first cousin of Benazir Bhutto and an uncle of Sassi, sees her return as a part of a family feud over a piece of land which had been, according to him, captured by Ghinwa Bhutto recently.
“According to my information, the return of Sassi is aimed at resolving the dispute among the heirs of Shaheed Bhutto. Reportedly, Ghinwa Bhutto had occupied a piece of agricultural land that ignited the dispute and resulted in the return of Sassi. Prior to the incident, the Larkana DCO was summoned by the family and was asked to distribute the property among the heirs according to the law.
“However, the possibility of Sassi’s role in politics cannot be denied as after all she is the only heir of Shahnawaz Bhutto Shaheed,” he said.
On the other hand, the family source denied Shahid Bhutto’s claim that Ghinwa Bhutto had occupied any piece of land. “This is nothing but a mere accusation as Ghinwa has no influence over the local administration,” contradicted the family source.
When contacted, Inayat Bhatti, the spokesperson of Fatima Bhutto, brushed aside the impression that the young Bhuttos were planning to launch a new version of the PPP and said Sassi Bhutto was not on any political visit but “to meet her cousins in Pakistan”.
When asked why she had arrived so late to see her family, the spokesman said, “Its Sassi’s right to visit her country anytime and go to any place.” However, Bhatti confirmed that Sassi Bhutto, along with her cousins, would go to Larkana and visit the graves of her ancestors at Garhi Khuda Bakhsh along with hundreds of followers and loyalists.
“But no political impression or motivation should be derived from this visit as it is purely a sentimental matter for the family,” he remarked.
Source: The News, 4/7/2008