LAHORE: The central executive committee (CEC) of the Pakistan Peoples Party-Parliamen­tarians (PPPP) has formally approved the name of PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari as the prime ministerial candidate, who later announced his election manifesto in a post-nomination presser.

A hybrid meeting of the CEC was held under the chair of its president Asif Ali Zardari in which the party’s election campaign and manifesto as well as the prevailing political situation in the country and contacts with other political parties came under deliberation.

Mr Zardari expressed his confidence in the leadership of Mr Bhutto-Zardari and presented his name as the prime ministerial candidate on behalf of the PPPP. The CEC participants unanimously endo­rs­ed the proposal.

Talking to the media after his nomination, Mr Bilawal said he would run the party’s election campaign in all the four provinces, notwithstanding the law and order situation. He said that after coming to power, he would abolish all those policies that allowed terrorism to resurface in the country.

Chairman unveils manifesto; dares Imran, Nawaz to contest election against him in Larkana

He said he would quash the Rs1,500 billion subsidy being given to big industries and elites and divert this amount towards farmers. Introduction of labourer and youth cards for specific financial benefits, doubling salaries of employees, 300 power units free of cost for people of less privileged areas, expanding the scope of BISP, introducing an elimination of hunger scheme at union council level, and provision of free quality healthcare services were other main features of his manifesto.

He agreed that the steps would require harsh decisions such as abolishing the federal ministries and divisions that had been devolved to the provinces under the 18th amendments to save funds for providing financial benefits to the common people.

Responding to a question, the PPP chairman said whether one liked it or not, he’s contesting election from Lahore while both the PML-N and PTI were yet to finalise their candidates against him. He dared PTI founder Imran Khan and PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif to contest election against him from his Larkana constituency.

About the PPP’s weak position in Punjab, he said earlier Gen Ziaul Haq imposed PML-N and Nawaz Sharif and then Gen Zaheerul Islam and Gen Faiz Hameed imposed PTI on Punjab to oust the PPP from the province.

As for the alleged attempts to keep PTI out of the political arena, he said he desired that all parties should be given political space.

Published in Dawn, January 4th, 2024

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