Bilawal urges Nawaz to rely on own ideology, shun support of ‘administration’

Published December 2, 2023
PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari holds a press conference in Quetta on Saturday. — PPP screengrab
PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari holds a press conference in Quetta on Saturday. — PPP screengrab

PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari on Saturday urged PML-N supremo Mian Nawaz Sharif to contest the upcoming general elections on the strength of his own ideology and mandate and shun the support of the “administration”.

Last month, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and President Arif Alvi had agreed on February 8, 2024 as the date for polls.

In the run-up to polls, the rivalry between the Nawaz-led PML-N and the PPP resurfaced after the latter alleged that the former has a secret alliance with the current caretaker setup.

Bilawal again targeted Nawaz during a press conference in Quetta today, saying: “We want to work together with everyone but side-by-side I am in an election campaign. I will not run my election campaign by saying ‘Imran Khan or Nawaz Sharif for prime minister,’ … I have ideological differences, they and I have our separate history and I will follow my ideology and manifesto during the election.

“It is my demand from Mian sahib, too. that he should contest the elections on [the strength and basis] of his ideology and mandate instead of the administration.”

He urged Nawaz to ensure that the ballot was accorded its due respect instead of “getting it insulted” as it would be better for “him, me and the country”.

Without naming anyone, he also criticised the establishment, saying: “It is not possible that the entire Pakistan is told in 2018 that ‘Khan is your messiah and you have to only support him because the rest are bad.’ Then in 2023, someone else arrives and [the narrative changes to] ‘he is the angel while the rest are bad.’”

Bilawal warned that if the PML-N were to come to power, it would continue pursuing “politics of revenge and their vested interests”.

He also pointed out how the PML-N had made its stance clear against the 18th amendment and wanted it rolled back, terming any such plans a “dangerous idea”.

“You haven’t even implemented the 18th amendment properly and now you’ve termed it bad and want to finish it,” the PPP chief deplored.

Bilawal said some people were mistaken to assume that they could manipulate the “wind of change’s direction by coming [back] like a king” with people lining up to appease them and that would be enough to be successful in the elections.

“There is a lot of effort being done by Raiwind to create some sort of wind in Sindh but they are unable to. It’s not happening,” Bilawal said.

“The people who can’t even return to their home, who are being welcomed in Lahore for the first time in history with tomatoes and eggs instead of garlands are not worried about the people of Sindh and Balochistan. They care about their home more.”

Bilawal said he wanted to bring a change to the status quo by pursuing consensus-based politics instead of confrontational politics where all decisions were taken and implemented with the consensus of all political parties and institutions.

He also highlighted that the PPP was the only political party that never asked for a “special field” but instead demanded a level playing field for everyone.

Bilawal’s remarks an attempt to woo voters in Punjab: Sanaullah

PML-N leader Rana Sanaullah addressed Bilawal’s criticism of his party chief, calling his remarks an attempt to woo the voters in Punjab.

“The PPP is looking to attract the vote of those opposed to the PML-N in Punjab,” he said while talking to the media in Lahore alongside fellow party leader Ahsan Iqbal.

“From a political standpoint, by talking against us, they can only attract our opposition’s vote.”

Sanaullah said the PML-N considered the culture of “abusing political opponents” responsible for tremendously damaging the country’s political and democratic environment during the past five years.

He said the PML-N expected that the PPP leadership would keep democratic traditions in mind when talking about the elections. “Other than that, if they think they can give PML-N competition in Punjab … then they can go ahead and do so with their full effort, as is their right,” Sanaullah added.

Meanwhile, Iqbal said the PML-N had clearly said that there was no plan to roll back the 18th amendment.

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