KARACHI: Former president and PPP chairman Asif Ali Zardari says that the ruling coalition at the Centre had decided to table no-confidence motions in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab assemblies, Dawn.com reported on Thursday.

In an interview with journalist Asma Shirazi on Aaj News, Mr Zardari ruled out snap polls, saying that it won’t “suit us or democracy”.

“It’s too [pre]mature and too soon to say anything about the elections. I don’t think there is a possibility of the establishment forcing early elections,” he said.

The statement comes days after PTI Chairman Imran Khan announced plans to “quit the corrupt system and leave all the assemblies”. However, the PTI has yet to announce a date for the dissolution of assemblies in Punjab and KP, where the PTI is in power.

However, at the same time, Mr Zardari asserted that the coalition parties would contest the polls if the PTI succeeded in dissolving the provincial assemblies. “I will see how many MPAs Imran is able to get.”

In response to a question about the tabling of no-confidence motions, Mr Zardari said: “God willing.”

He went on to say that the motions would be submitted “everywhere”.

“Even in KP. We have seats [there]. There are some friends who have gone astray […] we have to bring them back. We will bring a way in which they won’t have to resign.”

Mr Zardari claimed that he had numbers in Punjab which were sufficient to throw out the PTI government.

The former president said that there may be some things that coalition leaders differed on, but promised that it won’t dent their alliance because “everything is irrelevant, only Pakistan is relevant”.

When asked if Punjab Chief Minister Pervez Elahi would be approached again, the PPP chairman said ‘distance’ had emerged between the two of them.

“I made Elahi deputy prime minister and gave them 17 ministries. This time they opted out themselves.”

In response to a question on the appointment of Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Asim Munir, Mr Zardari said that the new army chief was the choice of the institution.

He went on to say that he didn’t personally know Gen Munir. “He was the first person on the list [sent to the Prime Minister House]. And as per seniority, he was selected.”

Mr Zardari said that former army chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa never approached him for an extension.

“He might have said it to the prime minister. I wanted to lobby for Gen Aamer, who was sixth on the list, but I could not because the situation was not good.”

Talking about the institutions’ decision to stay apolitical, he said that “the army has walked ahead by staying a political”.

In the interview broadcast on Thursday, Zardari claimed that he could defeat PTI chairman Imran Khan from any constituency “except for Mianwali where the Nawab of Kalabagh will stand against him”.

“If I get myself shot and gather 25,000 people, where is the popularity in this? He lost against me by 21,000 votes in Sindh. We can fight him politically.”

The former president also said that the government didn’t try to implicate Imran in any case. “If he has to be held accountable, NAB (National Accountability Bureau) will do it. If he did sell the watch then a case would be lodged against him automatically.”

He, however, stated that he wasn’t aware of any of Imran’s wrong doings.

“Imran’s game was bigger and is still bigger. His game is not based in Pakistan. It’s based somewhere else,” Zardari claimed.

Published in Dawn, December 2nd, 2022

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