LAHORE: Former president Asif Ali Zardari has said he will not let the ruling party ‘steal’ the 2018 elections “like it did in 2013” through ROs (returning officers) and contact other parties to stop rigging (in the next elections).
“We are fully prepared for 2018 elections as my son, daughters and I are in the political arena. In 2013, our hands were tied (a reference to threats to PPP rallies in Punjab by the Taliban), but now we will tell them (Sharifs) how to contest elections,” Mr Zardari said while addressing the party workers at the residence of Azizur Rehman Chan, a candidate for Lahore PPP president, here on Sunday.
Some PPP office-bearers interpreted his visit as an indication that Mr Chan would be the party’s new leader in the city.
PPP leader voices concern over foreign loans taken by govt
“PPP was never defeated. In the last election, it was defeated by ROs. To ensure transparent and rigging-free elections in 2018 we will contact other parties,” Mr Zardari said, adding that now the PPP would tell how an election is contested.
Recalling how the people of Lahore had turned up to welcome Benazir Bhutto in the past, he expressed the hope that the Punjab capital would show “similar gesture to greet us”. He asked the workers to replace the slogan ‘Ek Zardari sab par bhari’ with ‘Ek Zardari sab say yari’.
Besides, a delegation of the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry called on Mr Zardari at Bilawal House. They discussed with the former president the internal and external debt situation which they termed “extremely worrisome”.
Mr Zardari said foreign loans had been taken on exorbitant rate which was not good for the country’s economy, adding that both traders and farmers were suffering because of wrong policies of the PML-N government.
“The benefits of lower oil prices are not being passed on to the people. PPP will come to power again and open more trade avenues with China,” he said.
Meanwhile, Mr Zardari has called ticket-holders and new office-bearers of the Rawalpindi and Sargodha divisions to Bilawal House on Monday (today) to finalise candidates for the 2018 elections.
A PPP leader told Dawn that Mr Zardari had asked the party workers to gear up for the next elections. “During his stay in Lahore for one more week, Mr Zardari will meet party office-bearers and ticket-holders of different divisions of Punjab to have their input for suitable candidates,” he said.
Published in Dawn, March 27th, 2017