MUZAFFARABAD: Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) Legislative Assembly Speaker and senior parliamentarian from Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Chaudhry Latif Akbar has underlined the need for free, fair and impartial elections in Pakistan, saying they would lay the basis for the much-needed progress and prosperity of the country on all fronts.

“The nations showing respect to the people’s mandate have always rapidly achieved the goal of development and prosperity. The neutrality and transparency of the general election is key to building confidence in the concept of public participation in power,” he said to a delegation of Pakistan based Kashmiri migrants on Wednesday, as part of efforts to woo them to vote for the PPP.

Mr Akbar said PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari’s participation in elections from Lahore was a continuation of the attachment of his grandfather Shaheed

Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and mother Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto with Punjab.

“Even the worst ever repression and crackdown on PPP workers by Gen Ziaul Haq’s infamous martial law regime failed to wipe out the love of the people of Punjab for the PPP leadership,” he said, adding, “the unprecedented mass gathering” in Lahore on April 10, 1986 on Ms Bhutto’s return from exile was an “incontrovertible example of that emotional allegiance”.

He asserted that the PPP had throughout stood up for the country by combating the serious political, economic and social challenges.

While outlining the commitment of his party with the Kashmiri people, he said its foundation was laid by Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto to fight and frustrate conspiracies on Kashmir issue.

Apart from building the confidence of institutions in the dismembered Pakistan, including repatriation of 90,000 war prisoners from India, he made it clear at all global forums that Pakistan would not budge from its principled stand on Kashmir issue, Mr Akbar said.

He said the legacy of commitment of Mr Bhutto was upheld by his great daughter who constituted the first ever parliamentary Kashmir committee under the leadership of a veteran leader Nawabzada Nasrullah Khan and ensured observer status for Kashmiri representatives in the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation.

“It’s therefore incumbent upon the people of Pakistan in general and Kashmiris in particular to spare no effort to return the PPP nominees with a heavy mandate to pave way for elevation of talented, tolerant and dynamic Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari as the country’s next prime minister,” Mr Akbar said.

The AJK Legislative Assembly speaker claimed that given the mood across the country, PPP was destined to give surprising electoral results from Punjab, other than Sindh and Balochistan.

“There is no denying the fact that the future belongs to the People’s Party whose priorities vis-à-vis national interests and dignity, inter provincial harmony, defence and Kashmir are crystal clear,” he said.

Published in Dawn, January 28th, 2024

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