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ISLAMABAD, April 24: The president’s spokesman has urged the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to direct leaders of political parties, particularly the PML-N, to desist from “political attacks” against the person of President Asif Ali Zardari.

“I wish to bring to your attention the vilification campaign set in motion by the leadership of some political parties, particularly the PML-N, against the person of President Asif Ali Zardari and its adverse impact on free and fair elections and the need to urgently redress the issue,” the spokesman, Senator Farhatullah Babar, said in a letter sent to Chief Election Commissioner retired Justice Fakhruddin G. Ebrahim on Wednesday.

He said the president was head of the state representing unity of the republic under article 41 of the constitution.

He said that during a recent hearing in the dual office case, the Lahore High Court had restrained the president from indulging in political activities. As a result, he had disassociated himself from political affairs of his Pakistan Peoples Party and from participating in activities and holding meetings that could be seen as partisan in nature.

The president’s response was appreciated by the court which disposed of the petition, the spokesman said. But, he deplored, during the ongoing election campaign a section of political leadership, particularly of the PML-N, had been hurling accusations against the president that tended to inevitably drag him into political controversy.

On the other hand, he said, the president was handicapped because he could not react to the accusations out of deference to the court directives.

Kick-starting his party’s election campaign in Tando Allahyar (Sindh) recently, PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif had criticised the president for not coming to rescue of the flood- and rain-affected people of the province in 2010 and 2011. “Zardari was visiting London and Paris when his people were drowning and their farmlands were inundated in rain and floodwater. I came to Sindh and brought huge quantity of relief goods,” he said.

The former premier said the apex court had stated that certain parties had militant wings but the president did not take any action against them.

“There are people who had murdered 50 to 100 people. How could you tolerate all this, President saheb,” Mr Sharif asked.