Will hold new elections after electoral reforms: Asif Zardari

PPP co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari addresses a press conference in Karachi. — Geo.tv/screengrab

PPP co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari on Wednesday said that the government will hold general elections in the country after introducing electoral reforms.

Addressing a press conference in Karachi, Zardari said: “Electoral and the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) reforms are included in our game plan.”

Referring to the huge economic challenges being faced by the country, the PPP co-chairman called for “out of the box” solutions to fix Pakistan’s economy. He maintained that the new government will take some time to control the situation.

Asif Zardari said that the nation will have to face problems until the IMF programme is finalised.

Electoral reforms will take three to four months, he said, adding that the government will not go for elections without them.

“We do not want any selected person to come into power again”, he said, adding that he has persuaded PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif over the electoral reforms ahead of the elections.

He said the government will take all the collation parties on board ahead of making decisions.

Reacting to the PTI Chairman Imran’s criticism of the army chief over his apolitical role, Zardari asked: “Should Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa be saluted for [keeping] the army apolitical or shall he be criticised?”

He maintained that the government will try “they” remain apolitical and neutral in the future.

Responding to a question, the PPP leader said the government will not tolerate criticism against the army at any cost and vowed to restore bureaucracy in the country.

He lashed out at Imran Khan for hurling allegations against the leaders of the ruling collation and dubbing them “Mir Jaffar and Mir Sadiq.”

Reacting to the diplomatic cable and the alleged conspiracy attached to it, Zardari said: “They drafted the communique themselves. There could be a diplomatic cable but probably it will not be sent by any state and the PTI should show proof if they have any.”

The PPP co-chairman also criticised the former regime’s economic policies and said the incumbent government will have to make its own policies to put the country on the track to progress and prosperity.

Zardari said that in Pakistan, there has always been a perception that conspiracies were being hatched against the country. “That is, however, not always the case.”

Berating the former prime minister, the PPP co-chairman asked: “What will PTI Chairman Imran Khan do by holding the elections soon. What has he done in the last four years for the nation?”

“People in Islamabad have a mindset that no one gets the votes in Sindh except PPP,” said Zardari, adding that Khan should contest the elections in Sindh and see how many votes he gets.

He further said that Khan has misled overseas Pakistanis through his rhetoric. “They [overseas Pakistanis] do not know the ground realities here,” he added.

Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, Ishaq Dar and Shahid Khaqan Abbasi confirmed that the London huddle would talk about the serious economic situation and attempt to find a way forward.

Speaking to the journalists, Nawaz said he looked forward to meeting Shahbaz and others. He said the PTI government had left Pakistan in a deep economic mess and the meeting would discuss the current situation as well as the way forward.

He said that thankfully Imran Khan’s PTI government was not there anymore after being ousted in a vote of no-confidence.

Nawaz said: “The PTI government has created a crisis in every sphere of the country. Imran Khan’s government harmed Pakistan in every possible manner, be it social, economic, cultural or political issues. Nothing like this ever happened before in the history of Pakistan. In the next election, the PTI’s chapter will be closed forever.”

When asked about former prime minister Imran Khan making references to Mir Jafar and treachery, Nawaz said: “Imran Khan has caused an unprecedented havoc in the country and the kind of destruction he has left behind has never been seen before. Thankfully, he is gone and his destructive ways have been stopped.”

Meanwhile, Ishaq Dar said the meeting in London was of critical importance as big decisions needed to be taken in relation to the economy.

Dar ruled out early elections and said that the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) had already said that elections before October were not possible.

Ex-prime minister Abbasi said that PM Shahbaz and other party leaders had requested Nawaz Sharif to call a consultative meeting.

According to sources, Nawaz has to consult the party leadership over some important issues over which he has reservations and the PML-N is expected to make a “big decision,” which is why he had rejected a proposal to have an online meeting.

Party sources said that during the meeting, a discussion on the strategy on the prices of petroleum products will be held with Nawaz Sharif and former finance minister Ishaq Dar.

The discussion holds special importance as a delegation of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is expected to begin talks with Pakistani officials in Doha on May 18.

Moreover, decisions about power-sharing, the next general election, and the Punjab cabinet will also be taken during the meeting.

 

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