PTI UK Coordinator
PTI UK held a protest in Birmingham on August 7th 2010 against President Zardari’s trip to Europe / UK using Pakistani taxpayers’ money. The Birmingham convention was to launch his son Bilawal Bhutto (later cancelled). This trip came at a time when the people of Pakistan are facing crises due to severe flooding where many are still waiting for Government help. A large amount of the taxpayers' money was spent to organize the event.
PTI UK Birmingham team put a lot of effort to organize the protest at such short notice. PTI UK's objective was to show solidarity with the people of Pakistan who feel disappointed at the President’s insenstive behaviour especially when the nation is suffering from a flood catastrophe where more than half a million people are trapped in NW Pakistan & 600,000 people remain completely cut off in the north of Khyber Pukhtunkhwa (UN stats). Also more than half a million people across the provinces have lost their homes.
The Birmingham convention was to launch Bilawal Bhutto’s career as an heir to the leadership of Pakistan’s People Party however after staunch criticism and anger from Pakistanis channelled through protests and media, this plan was dropped.
Despite the taunts, fierce criticism and negative feedback from British Pakistanis, President Zardari continued with his appearance in Birmingham accompanied by Asifa Bhutto, Mr Qamar Zaman Kaira, Jahangir Badar etc. The feelings of discontent were reinforced by an elderly Pathan, Mr Sardar Mohammed Shamim Khan, who was in the Convention Centre and who said that President Zardari’s speech incensed him so much that he spontaneously decided to unlace his size 10 shoes and hurl them at the President. However due to the stage being at a distance from the audience, the shoes did not reach Mr Zardari. The Pathan gentleman was removed by the security guards and was later released without charge.
Soon after, the PPP stalwarts denied the shoe throwing incident even though it was captured by the British media including the Financial Times. Furthermore, the transmission of Geo was blocked in few parts of Pakistan and copies of the Daily Jang and The News were burnt in Karachi by the PPP jiyalas just because the media published the story of shoe throwing incident. PTI categorically condemns any attack on the media and any curbs as this is anti democratic and is an act of a dictatorship.
During his speech, President Zardari said that he was in the UK to develop trade links with the International community however there was only one official meeting at Downing Street with Prime Minister (PM) Cameron where he did not even succeed in making PM Cameron retract his accusations about Pakistan exporting terrorism. In France he went to visit his property whilst a guest of the French Prime minister.
President Zardari also said that the protestors outside the Convention centre were wasting their time. This must be due to the fact that the PPP governmen does not value the importance of protests and demonstrations which are a democratic method of expressing public discontent.
PTI UK would like to thank all of the protestors who participated in the Birmingham protest under the PTI UK banner including the Birmingham PTI team (Tayyab, Ubaid, Saqib, Babar, Adnan, Ifzal, Ubaid Sahib, Khalil, Ghazzanfar, Imran, Murawat Hussain, Hassan Asghar, Osama, Tahir, Irfan Butt). We apologize for not mentioning others however we thank everyone for such a great turnout.
MODERATOR'S QUESTION: Was this right? Should a protest should have been held in another country where your President was visiting? Was throwing a shoe at him the right thing to do?