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Thousands rally in Pakistan against US drone attacks Bhutto’s son opposes govt privatisation Bhutto’s son opposes govt privatisation plan

KARACHI, Dec 1, (AFP): Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, the son of Pakistan’s slain premier Benazir Bhutto, vowed on Saturday to resist a massive privatisation drive planned by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s government. The 25-year-old, who is being groomed to lead the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) that was heavily defeated at polls in May, accused Sharif of seeking personal gain from a planned sell off of more than 30 state-run loss making organisations. “We are against privatisation hundred percent... and we will not let it happen,” he said, addressing a workers’ gathering to mark the 47th anniversary of the founding of his party. “This is not privatisation but this is personalisation,” he added, in a reference to alleged nepotism. The privatisation list contains the national flag carrier Pakistan International Airlines and the Steel Mills, a state-owned behemoth set up by former premier Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, Bilawal’s grandfather, in the 1970s. Bilawal’s mother was killed in a gun and suicide attack in December 2007 after addressing an election rally in Rawalpindi, a garrison city adjoining the capital Islamabad. Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, who founded the party, was hanged in 1979 in a politically motivated murder case after being ousted in a coup and arrested by former dictator General Ziaul Haq. Bilawal is being groomed to lead the party by his father Asif Ali Zardari who was president of the country from 2008 until earlier this year. Critics believe Bilawal may not reflect the charismatic charm of his mother and legacy of his grandfather who founded the party in 1967. His public appearances are also restricted due to security fears and threats issued by Taleban militants.

Meanwhile, thousands of people rallied in Pakistan’s eastern city of Lahore Sunday in protest at continued US drone strikes in the country’s troubled northwest. Around 5,000 protesters chanted anti-US slogans and called for an immediate end to the drone strikes at the rally organised by the Defence of Pakistan Council (DPC), a coalition of around 40 religious and political parties. The demonstrators chanted slogans calling for the blocking of NATO supplies for Afghanistan which are transported through Pakistan. DPC chief Maulana Sami-ul-Haq, in a televised address to the rally, said Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had come under US pressure and was not expected to play a positive role in getting the drone strikes stopped. He appealed to all political parties, religious scholars and members of civil society to unite against the attacks. Hafiz Saeed, leader of the Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) which is one of the DPC’s component parties, also called for unity.

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