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'We are ready for presidential battle': Fazlur Rehman

September 02, 2018

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Rehman and Shahbaz held a meeting today to talk strategy for Tuesday's presidential election — Photo by author
Rehman and Shahbaz held a meeting today to talk strategy for Tuesday's presidential election — Photo by author

Joint opposition's presidential candidate Maulana Fazlur Rehman on Sunday declared that he is "ready for presidential battle" even if his attempts to convince PPP to withdraw their candidate Aitzaz Ahsan in his favour made little headway.

Rehman, following a meeting with PML-N President Shahbaz Sharif in Lahore, delivered a media talk and made a last-ditch effort to convince PPP supremo Asif Ali Zardari to back him in the presidential election, set to be held in less than 48 hours on Tuesday.

"For my withdrawal, I will have to take into confidence five parties," said the JUI chief, whose party is one-fifth of the Muttahida Majlis–e–Amal (MMA) — a religiopolitical alliance.

"For PPP it is easier to withdraw its candidate," he added in response to PPP leader Qamar-uz-Zaman Kaira's call for Rehman to withdraw his candidacy earlier in the day.

While there have been little signs that the impasse between the joint opposition and PPP could be thawed prior to Tuesday's poll, Rehman is not giving up on the challenge. "We are trying to have the PPP accept the joint opposition's decision and back a single candidate; Asif Zardari and Aitzaz Ahsan are good friends of mine."

"If we are acceptable for sacrifices then why aren't we acceptable for presidential elections,' the JUI-F chief questioned.

Rehman, who described his meeting with the PML-N leaders as "a meeting of the MMA under the stewardship of Shahbaz Sharif," thanked his allies for "putting their faith" in him.

Despite the rift within the opposition that stands to derail his presidential bid, Rehman, who failed to win any seat in the general elections, seemed up for a fight. "We are ready for the presidential battle," he declared.

The PPP may not be ready to back Rehman yet, but PML-N leaders Hamza Shahbaz and Saad Rafique assured him of their party's support.

"The opposition parties have nominated Fazlur Rehman and we will try and get our candidate elected," said Hamza, with Rafique reiterating: "The PML-N nominated him, and so we will vote for him."