Former president Asif Ali Zardari on Monday expressed confidence in his son and PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari’s victory in the upcoming general elections.

Putting an end to months-long uncertainty, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and President Arif Alvi last week agreed on February 8, 2024, as the date for polls. The development has stirred activity in the camps of major political parties.

In the run-up to elections, the rivalry between the PPP and PML-N has gained momentum as the former alleges that the Nawaz-led party has a hidden alliance with the current caretaker government.

On the other hand, the PPP has expressed willingness to form an electoral alliance with the PTI, citing the need for a level playing field.

In an official statement issued today, Zardari welcomed the announcement of the election date and said: “The sun of February 8 will rise with the message of Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari’s victory.”

“A few days of the public’s difficulties are left. The PPP will bring an end to the people’s ordeals,” he added.

The former president went on to express his gratitude to the public for the party’s victory in by-elections held in Karachi’s nine local government constituencies a day ago.

“Sindh’s heart, Karachi, also raised the slogan of ‘Jiye Bhutto’,” Zardari said while terming Karachi Mayor Barrister Murtaza Wahab and Deputy Mayor Salman Abdullah Murad’s wins a “special message for the opponents”.

“Every party worker may become the ambassador of Benazir Bhutto shaheed and start the electoral campaign,” he added.

In another statement, Bilawal also congratulated the Karachi by-election winners and said, “The public has given its verdict. Now, God-willing, the PPP’s victory on February 8 is also written on the wall.”

Speaking to the media in Karachi later in the day, Bilawal termed the results of local government elections a “mere trailer” for what would transpire in the upcoming general elections.

He said that the PPP could not be defeated even if all of its political rivals united. “We will prove on Feb 8 that PPP enjoys support from Karachi to Kashmir,” he said.

Bilawal was also asked about reports of a phone call between Zardari and PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif. The PPP chairperson said that Zardari had already spoken to Nawaz Sharif when the latter returned to the country, saying “it’s old news”.

Concluding his media talk, the PPP chairman said that the decision of who became the next prime minister lay with the public. He expressed hope that the public would make sure that the next premier “will not be from Lahore”.

PML-N campaign enters ‘new phase’

Meanwhile, PML-N supremo Nawaz presided over a hurdle in Lahore on his “first day at the [party’s] central secretariat after returning to the country”.

The PML-N supremo returned to Pakistan last month after a four-year-long self-exile in London and the legal hurdles he had been facing have mostly been cleared from his political path.

In a post on X (formerly Twitter), the party stated, “The PML-N’s election campaign has entered a new phase with the start of Nawaz Sharif’s meetings in the central secretariat.”

PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif, Chief Organiser Maryam Nawaz, Secretary General Ahsan Iqbal, former defence minister Khawaja Asif, Senate leader Ishaq Dar and former information minister Marriyum Aurangzeb attended the meeting.

The PML-N said matters linked to the country’s situation and the party’s future political activities were discussed in the meetup.

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