After his party was forced to scrap its planned rallies in Peshawar and Malakand due to the mounting security threats, PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari on Saturday suspended his political activities all over Pakistan.
With Bilawal in KP on a two-day visit, the PPP had planned to stage public gatherings in Peshawar but especially Malakand — a district it has historically done well in and whose NA-9 constituency he will be contesting the July 25 polls too.
Bilawal was scheduled to leave Peshawar for Malakand this morning, and lead a rally from Sakhakot to Batkhela before addressing a public meeting at Zafar Park in the evening.
However, KP and the neighbouring Balochistan have been hit by three major terrorist attacks this week, together claiming the lives of around 150 people.
As a result, KP’s district administration today refused to grant PPP the permission to go ahead with its planned events, and advised Bilawal to remain within the cantonment areas.
The party’s KP chapter secretary information, Senator Rubina Khalid, told DawnNewsTV that marathon discussions were held with the local administration and police but the permission was not granted.
Bilawal then suspended his political activities, although he said he would still go to his constituencies and meet his party’s local leadership.
Later on, in a press conference, Bilawal said: “120 people are dead in Balochistan; each one of them have families. What would they think when they see me chanting slogans in rallies. I could never do that.”
Bilawal complained of not getting a level playing field, saying: “ANP and BAP can’t engage freely in political activities. The PPP is not getting a level playing field either. Not only have we been impeded at various places but also my workers have been pressurised into switching loyalties.
“I have also not been given proper media coverage. And I have been repeatedly told to remain within the cantonment areas. How can I campaign in this situation.
“This is pre-poll rigging and it would make the results the elections controversial. But despite all this we are in the electoral race and will contest the polls.”
Regarding the recent terror attacks, Bilawal urged all the stakeholders to “be on the same page” to implement the National Action Plan.