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KARACHI/ISLAMABAD: Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari has been elected unopposed chairman of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and Asif Ali Zardari president of the Pakistan Peoples Party Parliamentarians (PPP-P) in the party elections, paving the way for the two parties to be eligible to contest the coming elections.

Under Section 103 of the Representation of Peoples Act, holding of intra-party elections, according to the party constitution, is a basic requirement to get election symbol to contest the polls.

The party elections of the PPP and PPP-P were held on Saturday and Sunday, respectively, in the light of a decision taken by the central executive committee in Larkana on Dec 27.

Nayyer Bukhari returned unopposed as secretary general, Chaudhry Manzoor Hussain as central information secretary and Haider Zaman Qureshi as finance secretary of the PPP. Farhatullah Baber was elected unopposed secretary general, Maula Bux Chandio central information secretary and Senator Saleem Mandviwala finance secretary of the PPP-P.

All the office-bearers were elected for a period of four years.

Before the party elections, some private TV channels, quoting sources, had reported that both the PPP and PPP-P had been merged. When contacted, Jameel Soomro, political secretary to PPP chairman, termed the reports baseless and said that the TV channels should verify the news before airing them.

Meanwhile, Mr Bhutto-Zardari, who is in Islamabad these days, met some senior leaders of the PPP on Sunday and discussed with them the party’s public meeting programme in Punjab.

Mustafa Nawaz Khokar and Nadeem Afzal Chan were among those who met the PPP chairman. According a party source, the PPP chief sought their suggestions for making the campaign against the government successful in Punjab and other parts of the country.

Talking to Dawn, newly appointed secretary general of the PPP Farhatullah Babar said Mr Bhutto-Zardari would chair an important party meeting in Islamabad on Monday.

The PPP chairman had on Dec 27 announced a long-march programme against the government after it failed to meet the party’s four demands – appointment of a full-fledged foreign minister, formation of a parliamentary committee on national security, passage of the opposition’s bill seeking investigation into the Panamagate scam and implementation of the resolution passed during a multi-party conference on the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor held in May last year.

Published in Dawn, January 9th, 2017