Fazl, Bilawal have ‘no problem with PTI being on the ballot’ sans May 9 rioters

Published October 8, 2023
This combo photo shows JUI-F leader Maulana Fazlur Rehman (left) and PPP chairperson Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari. — DawnNewsTV/File
This combo photo shows JUI-F leader Maulana Fazlur Rehman (left) and PPP chairperson Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari. — DawnNewsTV/File

PESHAWAR / JACOBABAD: With elections due in just a few months, two major political parties have ostensibly demanded a level playing field for all stakeholders, including the PTI, except for those elements who were involved in riots on May 9 incited by the arrest of party chief Imran Khan.

JUI-F leader Maulana Fazlur Rehman did not name Imran Khan, but said it was not fitting for him (Fazl) to make speeches against his opponent “when he was behind bars”. He also said he did not fight his rivals if their hands were tied.

“It did not suit him to make speeches against his opponent when he was behind bars,” he said, adding that their ideological differences would remain.

According to the JUI-F chief, he wanted politicians to be out of prison, but if someone was facing the law, then there could not be any exception. He said the entire administrative machinery was on the decline and added: “Establishment and bureaucracy were also losing their trust.”

JUI-F chief doesn’t name Imran, but says he won’t fight ‘handicapped’ rivals; PPP leader says talks with PTI possible after accountability of those who broke the law

He said that on one hand, inflation and poverty were wreaking havoc on the people while on the other, the law and order situation was deteriorating. “Why was the JUI-F attacked and at whose behest the Bajaur bomb attack took place… about 20 of our party leaders were martyred in targeted killings,” he claimed.

Besides, he said that minorities were not safe in the country and their places of worship and homes were being burnt. He also criticised the caretaker government and said that it was an “orphaned government”. Regarding elections, he said that by the end of January, large parts of the country, including areas of KP and Balochistan, would be under snow.

‘Polls only solution’

Separately, a handout issued by the PPP quoted its chairperson Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari as saying that talks with the PTI ahead of elections were possible but those responsible for the violence on May 9 needed to be held accountable first. He made these comments during his visit to Jacobabad.

Mr Bhutto-Zardari said his party wanted polls on time so it could serve the people. He said elections were the solutions to the problems faced by the people. Speaking about JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman, the PPP chairperson said he did not expect a statement about the delay in polls from a politician like Maulana Fazl.

He reiterated his demand for a level playing field in the lead-up to elections, saying the Election Commission of Pakistan instead of focusing on a sole political party should prioritise the interests of the nation. He claimed the development projects in Sindh were halted due to ‘stubbornness’. “I am winning the election, (and) I will come and carry forward these development projects,” he announced.

The former foreign minister also expre­ssed full solidarity with the Palestinian people.

On the other hand, PML-N held a meeting in Lahore chaired by party president Shehbaz Sharif to take stock of preparations ahead of Nawaz Sharif’s possible return to Pakistan on Oct 21.

PML-N leaders informed the party president about their efforts to mobilise the workers in their respective areas. The party has appointed nine divisional coordinators to bring supporters to Minar-i-Pakistan to welcome Nawaz Sharif.

Shehbaz Sharif said his brother was returning to serve the people. “Like in the past he will succeed in steering the country out of crises,” he said.

Zulqernain Tahir in Lahore also contributed to this report

Published in Dawn, October 8th, 2023

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