BIRMINGHAM: THE Prime Minister of Pakistan has been forced to cancel a visit to rally in Birmingham over security fears.
Yousaf Raza Gilani planned to address thousands of supporters at the International Convention Centre on Saturday, reported a local paper The Birmingham News.
But the “community meeting” was suddenly scrapped for fears of a "serious security breach by protesters,” according to a Pakistani official who helped organise the PM’s UK visit.
The unnamed official said: “It was left to the High Commission of Pakistan in London to make the necessary security arrangements but it was decided the rally had too many risks attached to it.
“Any boisterous situation could develop which could be a public relations disaster for the prime minister who is already under a lot of pressure.”
News of the cancellation came after Pakistan’s Supreme Court convicted Gilani of contempt for failing to instigate an investigation into allegations of corruption by his country’s president Asif Zardari.
The ruling could see Gilani forced to stand down and be disqualified from being a Member of Parliament for five years.
In a 2010 rally at the ICC in Birmingham Zardari, the widower of Pakistan’s only female President Benazir Bhutto, was attacked with a shoe by a protester from Coventry who later received a police caution.
Birmingham-based opponents of Mr Gilani’s Pakistan People’s Party said they had been planning mass demonstrations outside the ICC today but were not aware of any threats to his safety.
Mohammed Nazam, of the Kashmir Independence Alliance, said: “The truth is that it is too embarrassing for Gilani to appear in Birmingham after he has been so publicly humiliated by the Supreme Court.
“His President had a shoe thrown at him when he last visited Birmingham and I guess Gilani fears he will get an equally cold reception.”
Mr Gilani arrived in the UK on Tuesday and attended the state opening of Parliament in London before meeting David Cameron, who has promised his country £650m in education aid.
Mr Gilani’s spokesman said the main reason he cancelled was because of other commitments.
An ICC spokesman said: “The booking has been cancelled but obviously we will charge the cancellations fees.”