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ISLAMABAD: Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari said the PPP would support Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N)’s candidate for premier but would not become part of the federal cabinet and it would contest elections for seeking constitutional posts of president of Pakistan, National Assembly speaker, and the Senate chairman.

The PPP chairman said that his party would not become a coalition partner of the PML-N government and it is the decision of the Central Executive Committee (CEC) and also his wish that his father Asif Ali Zardari contests the election for the post of president of Pakistan.

Addressing a news conference, on Tuesday, after two days of marathon meetings of the party’s CEC, Bilawal while answering a question said, “It is the decision of CEC and also my wish that my father Asif Ali Zardari to contest election for the post of president of Pakistan. It is not personal that Asif Ali Zardari is my father but he has the capacity and the experience and the country needs him to unite the federation. The country is currently burning and if anyone has the capacity to help put the fire out, it is Asif Ali Zardari. Today, there is political instability and a chaotic situation in the country. It is PPP’s right to contest elections for constitutional slots of president of Pakistan, speaker National Assembly and chairman Senate. The PPP will support the prime minister’s candidate of the PML-N but we will not become part of the cabinet.” Bilawal said that his party has accepted the election results, despite concerns, in the larger interest of the country. He said that he does not believe that he will be the opposition leader.

Answering another question, he said that we would cooperate on issue to issue basis with the future government for the interest of the nation. “We can differ on policies. We would have to decide on the basis of parliamentary consensus to address the problems of the people and for legislation,” he said.

Answering another question, he said, “We do not want the country to hold another election, if we do so it will only harm the country. If the PTI does not want our votes and the PML-N does not form a majority, and if I am not the PM candidate and this House fails to elect a PM and form the government, then we will have to go back for re-elections and this will lead to another perpetuation of this political crisis. Political stability will not return; rather political instability will increase. The consequences of this will be faced by the people of Pakistan, who at this moment, are facing not only a political crisis but also an economic one, the very real threat of terrorism and climate change.”

“I will not be putting myself forward for the candidacy of the prime minister of Pakistan. The PML-N and independents have a greater number at the Centre,” he said.

Bilawal said that the decision to support PML-N was taken after the PTI refused to form a coalition with the party, leaving the PML-N as the only party that had invited the PPP to join the government.

Answering another question, he said that we want Parliament and the elected prime minister to complete their terms.

He said that the PPP’s principled stance is that it needs to help the country emerge from the plethora of crises it is faced with. He said that the time has come yet again for the party to raise the slogan of “Pakistan Khappay”.

Bilawal said that the PPP has decided that we will form a committee of members of the party to engage with other political parties. He said that as far as government formation is concerned and the question of political stability, the PPP will make a committee to engage with counterparts based on its views. “We will make efforts to push the country in a direction which is the right of the Pakistani people, who participated in this election. They do not wish for further chaos in the country.”

According to a press release issued by the PPP, Bilawal constituted a committee for contact and coordination with political parties. The Committee comprises Qamar Zaman Kaira, Syed Murad Ali Shah, Nawab Sanaullah Zehri, Shuja (Shazi) Khan, Saeed Ghani, and Nadeem Afzal Chan.

Notification in this regard was issued from the Chairman’s Secretariat by his Political Secretary Jameel Soomro.

Bilawal said that the members of the CEC raised objections over the PML-N and our experience with them for 18 months. He said that members of the Party, especially from Punjab, KP, and other provinces expressed their grievances over their issues not being resolved. He said that the members of the PPP’s CEC too expressed their views regarding the level playing field, rigging, and irregularities. “It has been decided that the PPP’s CEC will collect all such complaints as far as this election is concerned. Moreover, despite these objects, grievances and protests over these elections, we will accept the results due in the larger interest of the people and the country. We would simultaneously want to address these issues so that the upcoming elections are not questioned. For this purpose, we will also use forums such as the Election Commission of Pakistan, the Parliament, etc. During the election campaign, the CEC of the party had raised concerns with President Zardari regarding the lack of a level playing field and he had ensured the meeting that they would be addressed.”

Bilawal said that he himself conveyed to Zardari on behalf of the CEC to help address the concerns over the level playing field, given the evidence of irregularities. In the larger interest of political stability in Pakistan, this issue too should be addressed, he said.

The PPP chairman said that he wishes to give hope and a message to the people of Pakistan, in the wake of the dropping of points at the Stock Exchange and concerns of the international community and the people that the Parliament and a government will be formed; it is the forum where the issues of the people are resolved.

He said that the message the people of Pakistan are sending is falling on deaf ears as far as the politicians are concerned. He said that the Pakistani people gave a split mandate so that the country is not run on one entity’s whims alone. He said that they voted in this manner so that the political parties would collaborate and solve the problems of the people.

Answering another question, the PPP chairman said that the PPP could have taken advantage of this political situation, and blackmailed the PTI and the PML-N. “This is not the politics of reconciliation, but our love for the people of Pakistan that is compelling us to make this decision. We have to choose between our politics and for the system of the country to run.”

He said that the PPP will not engage in the politics of extremism. “The people of Pakistan do not expect of me to take an extreme position solely to cater to my personal interests.”

Responding to another question, Bilawal said the MQM adopted a violent approach. “It is also a concern that militant elements of the Party were freed in the elections. Our candidates were subjected to violence, their offices and cars were burned. However, despite all this, we will not compromise on the peace and progress of the city of Karachi. Our message to them too is not to engage in the politics of hatred and refrain from dividing the city based on linguistic politics.”

Copyright Business Recorder, 2024

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zh Feb 14, 2024 10:28pm
Wonder, how long Bilawal Zardari can resist the temptation of being a foreign minister?
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