Zardari begins his journey home, after 18 months

KARACHI: Former president and Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari is going to arrived home to Karachi today (Friday) ending an 18-month long stay in Dubai.

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PPP Patron in Chief, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari tweeted a picture of his father as he departed for the airport from his Dubai residence.

News of Zardari’s return has rattled some cages and made some waves on the country’s political horizon. It appears that opposition parties have certain expectations associated with Zardari’s arrival, although the question remains whether he would be able to fulfill the hopes that his own party has pinned on him.

Opposition party Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf is of the view that an alliance with the PPP is not on the cards, although if there emerges a clear stance on the Panama Papers issue then the political discourse of the country could take a new path.

Zardari has been living in Dubai since June 2015.

Meanwhile, the former president’s party is of the opinion that Zardari’s return to Pakistan would revive the PPP’s politics and give it a new direction. PPP leaders think Zardari’s expertise lies in maintaining bilateral ties and reconciliation. Party leaders say the return of the former president would revive the politics of opposition.

Earlier on Thursday, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said he was glad that Asif Ali Zardari was returning to the country. He was speaking to journalists during his visit to Bosnia. “I am actually very happy that Zardari is returning to Pakistan,” he said, adding that the former president would keep “his party’s control in his hands”.

Earlier, Bilawal Bhutto went as far as to claim during his address at a Foundation Day rally in Lahore that Zardari would become Pakistan’s president again.

On Nov 20, former president Zardari stated that he had not been in exile and would be back in Pakistan in a few weeks. He was speaking to Hamid Mir in Geo News show ‘Capital Talk’ and responded to the host’s question about his entry back into Pakistan.

Preparations complete

Preparations by the PPP to welcome Zardari to Pakistan were completed earlier today. A special bomb-proof truck has been brought to the Old Terminal which the former president would use to deliver his address upon arrival.

DIG Traffic Asif Aijaz Sheikh said no roads would be closed for the rally, adding that Shahrah-e-Faisal would also remain open.

Traffic would be halted only during the VIP movement, he said. The road leading from Terminal 1 to Star Gate would be closed for traffic in light of the PPP rally; only people attending the rally and journalists would be allowed to go to the area designated for the rally, he added.

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