Pakistani Canadians demand action at rally in T.O.
Published Sunday, December 30, 2007 7:06PM EST
Pakistani Canadians gathered at Queen's Park Sunday afternoon, demanding Canada do more to protect democracy in the troubled south Asian country.
The rally, organized by the Canadian chapter of the Pakistan People's Party, drew a large crowd of supporters of the late Benazir Bhutto, the former prime minister of Pakistan and opposition leader who was assassinated on Dec. 27.
She was killed by a suicide bomber a week before parliamentary elections were to be held. On Sunday, a spokesperson with Pakistan's ruling party said the election may be delayed for up to four months.
Liaqat Malit, a PPP Canada member who attended the Queen's Park rally, told The Canadian Press the Canadian government needs to do more than just comment on the tragedy. He said the Conservatives need to work with officials in Pakistan to ensure the upcoming elections are a free and fair vote.
Saleem Janjua, another PPP Canada member at the rally, said Canada should also do what it can to ensure an international inquiry into the incident.
"We ask the government of Canada to ask the United Nations for a full investigation into the barbaric murder of Benazir Bhutto,'' Janjua told the crowd.
For the second day in a row, opposition parties took the opportunity to call on Canada to do more.
"Our government should officially call on the United Nations and the commonwealth to be involved in an investigation to find out how this horrific assassination took place," Jack Layton, the leader of the federal NDP, told the crowd.
Liberal MP Jim Karygiannis also took to the podium and said Canada needs to respond to Pakistani Canadians.
"I do not see your words or your speeches or anything to satisfy the community of Pakistanis in Canada," he said, calling out Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Foreign Affairs Minister Maxime Bernier specifically.
People at the rally responded with calls of 'shame', and chanted 'long live Pakistan,' and 'Musharraf must go,' according to CTV Toronto.
Police closely monitored the situation. Authorities brought in bomb-sniffing dogs that checked out cars parked at the rally.
Mounted units were also on hand for crowd control but were not needed.
With files from The Canadian Press and a report from CTV Toronto's Jim Junkin