Benazir’s ‘Baita’ shunted out of PPP

By Tariq Butt

ISLAMABAD: While one son of Benazir Bhutto has been made the party chairman, another PPP activist, who was affectionately called “son” by Benazir Bhutto, has been pushed out of the petty party office he ran for 10 years.

This “adopted” son, who always remained in the firing range to protect his late leader during all her rallies, has been shown the door because he was close to angry PPP leaders Makhdoom Amin Fahim and Naheed Khan.

Until recently, Ibne Muhammad Rizvi was the central office secretary at the PPP Headquarters in Islamabad, a position he held for over a decade. He remained associated with the party for 20 odd years, starting from his college days when he was a People’s Students Federation activist.

Rizvi have had jail visits for many times in the past two decades as he always remained in the forefront in all the PPP protest rallies in Islamabad and Rawalpindi.

“I have been shown the door because the PPP, under Asif Ali Zardari in power, needs a different set of people,” Rizvi told The News in an interview on Monday. Ibne Rizvi, it may be noted here, was among those persons who would taste the food prior to serving it to Zardari to check its deleterious effects.

“I was shocked to hear when I was told that the PPP did not need my services any more,” he said. Rizvi feared that perhaps he was punished because of his good relations with Amin Fahim and Naheed Khan.

“The PPP was virtually run by Naheed Khan in the absence of my leader Shaheed Benazir Bhutto. She would receive instructions from Benazir Bhutto and pass on to me for organising the protests,” he added.

Ibne Rizvi was agonised over the treatment meted out to Amin Fahim, Yousuf Talpur, Enwer Baig, Dr Safdar Abbasi, Naheed Khan and some other hardcore PPP leaders by Asif Zardari. “I would stay put outside the Adiala Jail in Rawalpindi for over 16 hours daily for at least six months when Asif Zardari was shifted there,” Ibne Rizvi remarked. He recalled that once Benazir Bhutto had asked him: “Son, look after Asif as I fear that he might be killed or poisoned to death.”

“My leader was assassinated at the Liaquat Bagh in Rawalpindi before my eyes,” he said, as he was standing on the roof of the vehicle which was following the jeep of Benazir Bhutto. “This was my routine practice: I would always be with Benazir Bhutto whenever she visited places in Islamabad and Rawalpindi. I have been happily in the firing range to protect my leader,” he added.

Responding to a question, he said he was never called by Zardari after he took over the PPP following the slaying of Benazir Bhutto. “I was totally ignored, though I did not deserve this for my services and commitment to the PPP,” Rizvi said. The purge of Ibne Rizvi is part of a campaign of Zardari of cutting to size those who were with his wife in the same vehicle on the tragic day of December 27, 2007 when she was killed, and also those who have been close to this lot.

The News, 8/7/2008

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