Bilawal rejects power-sharing formula

Published February 19, 2024
THATTA: PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari addresses a public meeting, on Sunday.—PPI
THATTA: PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari addresses a public meeting, on Sunday.—PPI

• Reveals he was offered premiership for the latter two years
• Says Zardari to be PPP candidate for president’s slot
• Dar terms public disclosure inappropriate, saying talks ‘still on’ to form govt with PPP, MQM-P

THATTA: PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari revealed on Sunday that he has rejected a power-sharing formula wherein the prime minister’s office would be shared between two parties and declared that former president Asif Ali Zardari would be the PPP’s candidate for president.

However, PML-N leader Ishaq Dar, while stressing that it was not appropriate to divulge details about talks between the parties vying to form the next government, insisted that the PPP chairman had made the time-sharing formula public but “that was just one aspect and there can be more formulas”.

Addressing a Yaum-i-Tashakur (Thanksgiving Day) rally in Thatta to celebrate the PPP’s election victory in Sindh, Mr Bhutto-Zardari said, “I was told [by PML-N] that let us be the prime minister for three years and then you can take the premiership for the remaining two years.”

“I said no to this. I said I do not want to be a prime minister like this,” he said. “If I become the prime minister, it would be after the people of Pakistan elect me.”

Without taking any names, Mr Bhutto-Zardari said the party had decided that it would move forward with “those who have asked for its votes” and would not seek any ministries.

He said that his father, Mr Zardari, would be the PPP’s nominee for the presidential slot, insisting that the former president would play his role to defuse political tension.

“To control the fire spreading in the country, we have decided that Zardari will be our candidate for the presidential election. And when he takes up the post, he will put out this fire, and will save the Centre and the provinces,” he said.

He said the country needed a political party that talked about people’s problems, adding that the brewing economic and political crisis had divided society.

“What should happen is that politicians and all political parties should think about the people of this country instead of focusing on their personal benefit,” Mr Bhutto-Zardari stressed.

The former foreign minister claimed that a PTI-backed candidate was made to win against a PPP leader. He said that he also had all the Form 45s available with him and would approach the appropriate forum but “wouldn’t burn his own house down or divide the country”.

He said PPP had decided to collect the election complaints of party workers from all over the country and raise them at appropriate forums. “If we are unsuccessful, we will come to you and protest together,” he said.

Parties should ‘stay within system’

Mr Bhutto-Zardari appealed to all the political parties to “stay within the system” and work for the country’s betterment.

“But if we want to move ahead like this and spread this division of hate and politics, where someone tries to divide you along religious lines, then someone else would try to divide you along ethnic lines and someone else will try to divide through sectarianism,” he said, according to a Dawn.com report.

He also challenged Grand Democratic Alliance chief Pir Pagara and JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman to bring all their Form 45s to him and if proven wrong, he would contest polls against them the next day.

“I have won two seats, out of which I will vacate one for by-elections,” he said. “How about you come and contest against us on that seat? Let’s see what your worth is.”

Later, in a post on X (formerly Twitter), Mr Bhutto-Zardari said his party had reservations over the elections and would be taking them to the appropriate forums.

“…[W]e believe the way forward is for all political parties to put aside their personal interests for the interests of the people of Pakistan,” he said.

“Our history has shown who benefits from chaos and division, and the people of Sindh remember the destruction wrought by those who encouraged and brought about the worst dictatorship our country has ever seen,” he said.

“We must not let such a situation arise again. I appeal to all political parties to think of the people. Put aside your differences. The challenges we face are too immense, and history will not judge us kindly if we care more for our ambitions than the fates of over 230 million people,” he said.

Dar on more formulas

Reacting to PPP chairman’s remarks, PML-N leader Ishaq Dar said the plan to form a government with PPP and MQM-P was “still on” as he pointed out that there was no other choice available to them.

Speaking to Geo News, the former finance minister said the committees of both political parties had held four rounds of meetings so far but nothing was finalised as yet, Dawn.com reported.

“None of the committee members of both parties will make anything public till it isn’t final,” Mr Dar said.

“I receive calls on a daily basis to find out about the progress but I am morally bound to not say anything till it’s finalised.”

The PML-N leader termed Mr Bhutto-Zardari’s revelations of a power-sharing formula merely a fraction of the dialogue held between the two parties so far. “I don’t think it’s appropriate to divulge any more detail about this. Bilawal made the time-sharing formula public but that was just one aspect and there can be more formulas.”

Published in Dawn, February 19th, 2024

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