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LAHORE: Former prime minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf said on Saturday that the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) was willing to work with all political parties to strengthen democracy; however, he put to rest rumours of a possible alliance with the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) at this stage.

“There is no question of an alliance with the PTI at this stage. The PPP’s leadership will decide about forging alliances with any party ahead of the 2018 election,” Mr Ashraf told Dawn on Saturday.

Responding to a question as to why the PPP had joined the PTI in expressing solidarity with Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) chief Dr Tahirul Qadri, Mr Ashraf said the PPP supported Dr Qadri’s demand for justice for the families of 14 victims allegedly killed by Punjab police in June, 2014. He added that extending support for Dr Qadri did not mean the same thing as forging an alliance with the PTI. Imran Khan, too, has expressed similar views on this matter.

Advises PML-N not to take on state institutions, especially judiciary

Dr Qadri had recently said that Asif Ali Zardari and Imran Khan would stand on his either side in protest against those involved in the murder of PAT workers in Model Town.

The PPP and PTI’s leaders have extended full support to the PAT chief in this regard. Citing Justice Ali Baqar Najafi’s report, Dr Qadri had demanded the resignation of Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif and Law Minister Rana Sanaullah for their “direct involvement” in the killing of his supporters under the pretext of holding an operation against encroachments around his house.

Mr Ashraf advised the PML-N to stop taking on state institutions, especially the judiciary. He said the PPP had always shown restraint in taking on the judiciary, even though the courts had passed several verdicts that were unfavourable to the PPP. “Practically, the PML-N government is non-existence in the country. The PML-N should respect state institutions because weakening them amounts to weakening the country,” he said.

Mr Ashraf said they were confident that the PPP could form the government in the upcoming election. “We are holding big rallies across the country as part of our election campaign. We want the next general elections to be held on time. PPP never wishes to delay polls,” he said.

Published in Dawn, December 17th, 2017