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Photo Source: The Express Tribune

Pakistan Reader# 697, 24 November 2023

PPP co-chairman Zardari seeks ‘New allies’



Mr Zardari expressed confidence in the timely holding of the elections on 8 February

Shamini Velayutham

On 23 November, according to PPP co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari a "national unity government" would be formed following the next general election. He predicted that no single party would be able to win a two-thirds majority. Mr Zardari expressed confidence in the timely holding of the elections on 8 February. He did, however, rule out the prospect of PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif holding a prominent position in the incoming administration, implying that the PPP should lead. During an interview with Geo News, Mr. Zardari chastised Imran Khan, the PTI leader, for allegedly trying to keep him out of politics and prolong his rule by rigging the 2024 elections. The interview focused on various verticals such as Zardari’s experiences with the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM), election strategy, and how he foresees the political situation of the country.  He also mentioned that his son, PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, son was not fully trained and will need more time. He further added that Bilawal was “more talented, educated and better spoken than me.”

A unifying government
Zardari stated that none of the parties would be able to get 172 seats in the National Assembly. Therefore, a coalition government would be established after the elections. He stated that PPP is open to coalition and welcomes parties to act to form a unified government. He stressed that PPP would make alliances with other parties if PML-N is not ready for it. He further added that if PPP, PML-N, and JUI-F were not able to get the majority of the seats, then all the parties should come together, stating, “It is better to move forward in a way that we can go together.” He reiterated that PML-N leader Nawaz Sharif will not lead even if he is contesting for the forthcoming elections. PPP is working towards gaining people’s support and PPP shouldn’t underestimated.

Zardari’s Views on Other Parties
Zardari elucidated that he has no confidence in former Prime Minister Imran Khan. He accused the previous PTI government, of leading the country to isolation in the international arena. He added, “Pakistan has been isolated from the world due to Imran. He was an enemy of the economy and responsible for Pakistan’s economic woes.” He finally said that if Imran was not ousted the country could have faced even severe repercussions.

When asked about the PPP’s experience with the PDM government, he stated that it was a difficult journey.  Regarding the Balochistan Awami Party's (BAP) recent association with the PML-N, Zardari claimed that it was not a voluntary one. He acknowledged supporting Shehbaz Sharif due to his work ethic but expressed displeasure regarding the trade matters. On Bilawal Bhutto Zardari's recent criticism of privileged politicians, Zardari stated that his son acquired the political etiquette however, lacks experience. On the PML-N-MQM-P coalition, Zardari said that it is the democratic right of the latter to join any alliance. He, however, denied backtracking from his party’s promises to the MQM-P.

Probing ahead, He endorsed the 18th Constitutional Amendment, claiming that any attempt to repeal it would be met with opposition from the provinces of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan. Zardari emphasized the 18th Constitutional Amendment's positive impact on provincial development. Once in power, the PPP leader promised to address the issue of missing persons, particularly in Balochistan. He praised Bilawal's leadership of the PPP, but added that he also supervises PPP-Parliamentarians, issuing party tickets in accordance with Benazir Bhutto's wishes.

References
Syed Irfan Raza, “Zardari foresees another coalition govt ‘not led by Nawaz”, Dawn, 24 November 2023
Tazmeen Javed, “Zardari envisions 'national unity govt' post elections,” The Express Tribune, 24 November, 2023

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