PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari on Wednesday lambasted the "favouritism" being shown towards the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan, alleging that in the run-up to the elections there is a movement underway to form "a puppet alliance" and a new Islami Jamhoori Ittehad, giving Khan and his party a leg up in the polls.
"If Imran Khan is so popular, if his politics is on a high [as is being presented] and people are with him, why is there a need for favouritism towards him? Why is there a need to give a non-level playing field to other political parties?" Bilawal asked, speaking to reporters in Lala Musa, where he is campaigning for the upcoming elections.
"Why is Imran Khan afraid of free and fair elections?" he wondered. "It is because he knows that, be it the GDA [Grand Democratic Alliance] or the PTI or whoever else, they cannot compete on a level playing field."
"Khan sahab is under the false impression that he can become the prime minister through conspiracies; he will fail in this conspiracy," the PPP chief claimed.
"You might gain from the politics of hate and abuse in the short term, but in the long term, a lot of damage will be done to the nation and its youth," Bilawal cautioned, in response to a question regarding the controversial language used by PTI leaders.
The PPP chief claimed that it was not just the PPP and PML-N who held reservations over the fairness of the election, but also the Awami National Party, political leaders in Balochistan, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan and international media.
He repeated his demand for "a more extensive and comprehensive Charter of Democracy which includes a multitude of political parties" as democracy is facing new challenges today.
A 36-point CoD was signed between exiled former prime ministers and arch-rivals of the past, Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif, in London in May 2006 during the military regime of Gen Pervez Musharraf.
Through the document, the two parties had admitted their past mistakes of dislodging each other’s governments with the support of the establishment and vowed to respect each other’s mandate in future.
They had also agreed on a number of constitutional reforms and steps to improve functioning of various institutions, including the military, judiciary and National Accountability Bureau (NAB).
But soon after the formation of the PPP government in 2008 following the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, the two parties had started accusing each other of violating the CoD. They had agreed to abolish NAB but failed to do so during their respective tenures. Both sides have accused each other of violating the CoD.
Bilawal on Tuesday called for a broad-based consensus among all parties on the "principles within the CoD, 18th Amendment and democracy as whole to agree that they would not compromise on the basic constitutional rights, freedom of press, freedom of political association and freedom of speech".