Thursday 10 May 2012

Pakistani PM Gilani’s Birmingham rally cancelled over security fears

The News has learnt that a war of words broke out between the High Commission of Pakistan and Pakistan Peopleís Party leaders brought over from Azad Kashmir to make arrangements for the rally of PPP diehards, but the situation swiftly changed owing to a number of highly controversial factors and the British government was asked for a higher level of security.

After the Supreme Court issued its detailed verdict on Tuesday when Prime Minister Gilani had already left the country for London, fears here grew that there could be a serious security breach during the prime ministerís address to Pakistanis in Birmingham at the International Conference Centre.

One of the biggest problems Azad Kashmir Prime Minister Chaudhary Abdul Majeed faced was that most of the PPP units in the UK were in Barrister Sultan Mahmoodís camp, who enjoys a strong support amongst British Pakistanis of Kashmiri origin.

At various meetings attended by the AJK PM to appeal for the Birmingham rally attendance and to gauge the mood of the public, he was told that the ordinary worker of the PPP was not happy with the direction of the party in Pakistan or Azad Kashmir. Barrister Sultan Mahmood arrived in London on Tuesday after a weeklong European tour to campaign for the same rally, but Chaudhary Abdul Majeed faced resistance from his supporters in Birmingham and other West Midlands cities.

The High Commission of Pakistan asked the AJK premier if he would take the full responsibility that no unpleasant incident would take place at the rally, to which the AJK premier couldnít provide a satisfactory assurance but assured that he still wanted the rally to go ahead at any cost.

Thus it was left to the High Commission of Pakistan to make their own arrangements in parallel to the security guaranteed by the British government, but in the end it was decided that the rally was going to prove to be a big hassle and had too many risks attached to it. Chaudhary Majeed also told the High Commission that he couldnít be expected to make foolproof arrangements when the invitation cards have been distributed without his approval and consultation. “The rally was cancelled over fears that any boisterous situation could develop which could be a public relations disaster for the prime minister, who is already under a lot of pressure. The infighting in PPP means that the warring groups donít see each other eye-to-eye. There were also fears that the PPP workers could clash with the PPP workers outside the venue.î

The High Commission had informed British authorities that Prime Minister Gilani will address Pakistanis for an hour at the event billed as ìInteraction with Pakistani community in Birminghamî and had requested for security arrangements accordingly.

A spokesperson at the International Convention Centre said: The booking has been cancelled but obviously we will charge the cancellations fees.” Meanwhile, Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani arrived at the five-star Churchill Hotel in a convoy of luxury cars with an army of his ministers and advisers and nearly two dozen media men in toe in what is considered to be one of the largest entourages of its kind.

As reported by The News

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