Lahore: Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari and his son Bilawal Bhutto Zardari have moved into a new sprawling bomb-proof residence in this eastern city that will be the base for their political activities in Punjab province ahead of the general election.
Zardari drove straight from the airport to Bilawal House, his new residence in Bahria Town, after flying into Lahore on Friday. He did not go to the Governor's House, where he usually stays, following an assurance given by a government lawyer to the Lahore High Court that Zardari would not use his official accommodation for political activities.
The President and his son are expected to stay in Lahore for five days and Bilawal House will be the hub of political activities. Zardari and his aides want to improve the performance of the Pakistan Peoples Party in Punjab, a province of 90 million that is currently ruled by the PML-N led by Nawaz Sharif.
Bilawal House, which is spread over some 200 kanals or 25 acres, is yet to be completed. However, Zardari had become cautious about using any official residence in the wake of the assurance given by the government to the Lahore High Court earlier this week.
Arguing that Zardari was co-chairman of the Pakistan Peoples Party, which is a "private association", government's lawyer Wasim Sajjad had said Zardari will not use his official residence for political activities.
Sajjad resorted to a technicality as the ruling party is registered with the Election Commission as the Pakistan People's Party-Parliamentarians.
The Bilawal House in Lahore is said be a gift for Zardari from controversial property tycoon Malik Riaz Hussain. The residence has bomb-proof structures and a landing strip for small jets and helicopters. The house is surrounded by lawns that can accommodate up to 10,000 people.
The compound is surrounded by high 30-inch thick walls fitted with security gadgets. Once completed, the residence will have a three-tier security system, sources said.
Bilawal House is located about 1.5 km from former premier Nawaz Sharif's palatial residence at Raiwind Road that is spread over 300 acres that has a mini zoo and is ringed by orchards and agricultural land.