Lahore: President Asif Ali Zardari is touring Multan, the hometown of Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, to mobilise Pakistan People’s Party workers in the politically crucial province of Punjab ahead of next year’s general election. Last week, he made a four-day tour of Lahore, the stronghold of the PML-N led by former premier Nawaz Sharif, and set the tempo for the election campaign by issuing hard hitting statements against the main opposition party and its leadership.

"President Zardari's back-to-back visits to Lahore and Multan are meant to show PPP workers that their co-chairman is serious about the upcoming elections.
"The President's visit will help redress the grievances of workers and mobilise them for the elections," Haider Zaman Qureshi, the PPP's senior vice-president for south Punjab said.

Qureshi said Zardari's two-day visit, which began on Saturday, will help strengthen the PPP in southern Punjab. The visit will also boost efforts to frame a strategy to counter the growing popularity of Imran Khan's Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf party. Addressing PPP activists at the Prime Minister's House in Multan, Zardari said the people of southern Punjab wanted their right to have a new Seraiki province and he would help them achieve it.

"The people here are annoyed with (Chief Minister) Shahbaz Sharif's Punjab government for paying no attention to their plight. The seminary students from the south, who have been denied their rights, have taken up arms and are fighting the (security) forces in the mountains," Zardari said.

He said the youths would revolt if they were not given their rights. "I have come here to tell them that the PPP will give them their rights and a new province," he said. The new Seraiki province will be created before the next general election in early 2013, he claimed. Zardari said he had also come to Multan to express solidarity with Gilani and his family.

He said Ali Musa Gilani, the younger son of the premier, was being framed in a case related to alleged irregularities in the import of a large amount of the chemical Ephedrine.

"Gilani and his children are being implicated in fake cases because the Prime Minister has refused to go against me," he said. Zardari contended that a "witch hunt" had been launched against Gilani. The Supreme Court last week issued a notice to Ali Musa, asking him to record his statement with the Anti-Narcotics Force.
The premier's son left for South Africa shortly after the notice was issued.