PPP empowers Zardari to parley on election issue

Published September 16, 2023
PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari speaks in a press conference in Lahore on Friday. — DawnNewsTV
PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari speaks in a press conference in Lahore on Friday. — DawnNewsTV

LAHORE: Apparently dissatisfied with the response it has received regarding complaints about an ‘unlevel’ playing field, the PPP central executive committee has empowered former president Asif Ali Zardari to raise the issue with all quarters concerned and demand that the Election Commission immediately announce the election schedule.

“It is not possible here to repeat all the reservations expressed by PPP’s representatives from all over Pakistan regarding the level playing field [because] there is a context of every opinion. We presented these reservations to president Zardari to address them,” said party chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari during a press conference at the conclusion of the two-day CEC meeting on Friday.

A participant of the CEC meeting told Dawn that the chairman meant that Mr Zardari would raise the issue with the PML-N and other quarters concerned on the inclusion of pro-N League people in the cabinet, as well as certain policies and projects being undertaken by the caretaker governments both at federal and Punjab level.

Responding to a question, Mr Bhutto-Zardari said that the PPP is not facing difficulty or oppression. “We have seldom witnessed a level playing field in elections, but I am hopeful. I have trust in my team. There is only one political party, which is not afraid of going to the people and that is the PPP.

“I can tell the people about my performance as the foreign minister, my role during floods and then what I did for the FATF issue. We are ready to tell the people about our performance in BISP. We are ready and not disappointed at all. Our stance on elections is well-known to everyone.”

Seldom witnessed a level playing field, says Bilawal

Announcing the CEC’s demand that the ECP should give election date and schedule at once, Mr Bhutto-Zardari told a questioner that they had not yet finalised their election strategy or electoral alliance and that is why they are demanding the poll schedule.

“Once the schedule of the elections is announced, we will formulate a strategy.”

He said that during the CEC meeting, they discussed the constitutional position and the ECP’s stance on elections. “We were of the unanimous opinion that to allay any confusion, the ECP should announce the election schedule. We think that once the election schedule is announced, all political parties will be in election mode and come out with their respective election manifestos.”

A senior PPP leader, who requested not to be named, said that the party’s manifesto committee has been directed to focus on the working class through labour registration card, women and youth in the manifesto.

Mr Bhutto-Zardari said the PPP has always tried to strengthen the parliament and parliamentary institutions so that we can all benefit from its fruit.

Answering a question about political dialogue with the PTI, he said that before May 9, they were trying to have a dialogue with every political force for elections but the PTI decided to attack the Lahore corps commander house, GHQ and other army installations. “We can have a dialogue with those not involved in the attacks of May 9. Our doors are open for negotiations with non-militant entities.”

Responding to a query about spending comparatively less time in Punjab, he stated that the PPP focuses on the entire country and gives importance to every province. He wondered why no one asks Nawaz Sharif or any other why they do not spend time in Sindh, why they do not spend a night in Balochistan or why they do not focus on Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

In response to a question on the Supreme Court’s verdict about the NAB laws’ amendments, he said that CJP Bandial was the last judge who was restored through a notification. “Now, history will determine whether the judiciary movement has benefited the country.”

Earlier, he presented the decisions and demands as resolutions passed by the CEC to the media.

These resolutions included concerns about the country’s economic situation, the continually rising prices of commodities, the inflated power tariff and increased petroleum product prices. It also called for declaring the flood-affected areas in Punjab as disaster zones. Solidarity was expressed with Pakistan’s minority communities and concerns were raised about the increasing terrorism in the country.

Published in Dawn, September 16th, 2023

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