PPP chairperson Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari claimed on Wednesday that the actions of the opposition's 10-party Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) had forced the incumbent government into activity to reach out and attempt to address the people's problems, terming it as a "win for democracy".
Bilawal was addressing a press conference in Lahore with PPP leaders Yousuf Raza Gilani and Qamar Zaman Kaira. He reiterated that the PDM had come to a consensus to not only take part in by-polls but also give a "tough time to the government" in every field, whether it was the by-elections or the upcoming Senate Polls. "This is the task of the opposition to familiarise the government with the people's voice and problems and to fight for them at every instance."
"This by itself is a win for democracy that they [the government] are [now] reaching out to everyone and they are trying to make the effort to solve the people's problems. Now they are ready to listen to the people's pain, grief and problems."
He said the opposition's continued criticism of the neglect of the National Assembly, calls for the supremacy of the parliament and decision-making through the parliament had made the government realise that it could not ignore its MNAs and allies. Bilawal added that the PDM had "exposed the government's situation" to Pakistan and the world in a short time due to its political decisions.
"By-elections happened in every corner of the country and the government was badly defeated," said Bilawal, alleging that the government had been exposed in its use of violence and methods to rig the NA-75 (Daska) by-poll. "The message has been sent to the whole of Pakistan that people are not with the government and the PTI but with the PDM."
He said he was hopeful that a new chapter would start in Pakistan where democracy would flourish after the win of Gilani in the Senate election. "I once again am thankful to the PDM leadership that they chose Yousuf Raza Gilani as their joint candidate from Islamabad."
He praised Gilani as someone who answered the questions of both opposition and government members during his tenure as prime minister and as someone who "sat in parliament, respected everyone and talked to everyone".
"This is a test for our members of assembly that will you vote based on the people's expectations or will you vote out of [Prime Minister] Imran Khan's fear," asked Bilawal of Pakistan's parliamentarians.
Yousuf Raza Gilani has been fielded as a joint candidate of the PDM for the upcoming Senate elections from Islamabad. The PPP leader expressed his confidence on Monday, while speaking to the media on a visit to JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman's residence in Islamabad, that he would emerge victorious in the Senate polls, saying that response to his nomination had been "positive". He also thanked the PDM leadership for choosing him and said that his nomination had "given respect to members of parliament" as the government was now ready to talk to MNAs and MPAs as well.
The ruling PTI has challenged Gilani's nomination in the Election Commission of Pakistan, alleging that the former prime minister concealed facts in his nomination papers. PTI's Senate candidate from Islamabad Fareed Rehman said that Gilani had failed to mention his conviction in a contempt of court case back in 2012.
'Prayer is that institutions are neutral'
"Since three generations, the PPP's struggle has been that we want our institutions to remain impartial [...] Pakistan's progress and development are dependent on this that every institution performs its role within its limits."
Bilawal claimed that the PPP had never asked for undemocratic support from any institution and was "happy" when every institution worked within its constitutional limits. "Our prayer is that institutions are neutral," he said, adding if everyone felt that institutions were being neutral in the Senate Polls, then it should be "welcomed".
He reiterated that the PPP wanted action on clauses within the Charter for Democracy which called for electoral reforms and open balloting in Senate elections but not without the parliament which "is the only avenue for lawmaking". Bilawal said he hoped lawmaking would commence on broader electoral reforms after the Senate Polls but they wouldn't be allowed to pass through "back doors".
Bilawal said the PDM would convene later after the Senate elections to strategise on any no-confidence motion and its strategy for the long march. "At the moment, we are just fighting the Senate elections and our hope is that we will bring good results in front of the people in the Senate elections."