ISLAMABAD: PPP Co-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari said on Sunday that the results of the first phase of local government elections in Sindh and Punjab were proof that the party was very much alive and had the support of the people.

Brushing aside claims by rivals and political analysts that the PPP was in decline and had lost popular support, he said: “I wish to felicitate the PPP candidates who won the LG polls and [demonstrated] yet again that contrary to the predictions of gloom and doom by some self-styled analysts, the party, far from down and out, is buoyant and resilient.”

The PPP, which ruled the country from 2008 to 2013, had faced the worst defeat in the last general elections and it was believed that its political graph had fallen to an unprecedented level mainly because of faulty decisions and policies of Mr Zardari.

Also read: PML-N emerges leader in Punjab, PPP ahead in Sindh

In the statement issued from Dubai, where the PPP leader has been camped out for a few months now – he was quoted as saying: “[We] hope that with the completion of next phases of LG polls in the two provinces, power will be genuinely transferred to the elected representatives at the grassroots level, as an essential ingredient of democracy.”

Meanwhile, PPP spokesperson Farhatullah Babar quoted the former president as saying: “Local bodies’ polls and empowering these bodies means much more than the mere transfer of power to the representatives of the people. It also means the creation of a vast body of new stakeholders in the democratic system that will strengthen democracy itself. The [more] the stakeholders, the stronger democracy and democratic institutions will be.”

The PPP co-chairman also expressed shock and grief at the deaths of over a dozen people in clashes between the supporters of rival candidates in Khairpur and Faisalabad and other parts of Punjab and said that in the presence of proper measures, these unfortunate incidents of election-related violence could have been avoided.

He said the authorities concerned should learn from these incidents to ensure that the next phases of the elections were incident-free.

Mr Zardari also asked party cadres in both provinces to gear up for the second and third phases of the elections.

“Electoral contests lie at the heart of parliamentary democracy, regardless of who wins or loses, because genuine elections throw up genuine representatives of the people and make the ordinary people stakeholders in the system,” he said.

The former president also called on the newly-elected local representatives to sincerely serve the masses who had elected them.

Published in Dawn, November 2nd, 2015

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