KARACHI  -  The Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) reiterated on Saturday that not only party lawmakers but opponents also would vote for party’s presidential candidate Aitzaz Ahsan on September 4. It is pertinent to mention here that opposition parties can compete with the ruling party by bringing a joint presidential candidate. The opposition however looks divided as the PPP has nominated Aitzaz Ahsan as its presidential candidate. Other opposition parties like PML-N, MMA, PkMAP, ANP, and the National Party have nominated Maulana Fazl-ur-Rehman as their candidate.

PPPP candidate Aitzaz Ahsan was opposed by former ruling party PML-N. Since the PML-N is the leading opposition party in Centre, Punjab and the Senate, other opposition parties also asked the PPPP to withdraw its candidate.  However, the PPP refused to withdraw its candidate and asked the opposition parties to build consensus on its candidate, at a meeting on Saturday.

The meeting was attended by PPP MNAs, members of the Sindh Assembly, senators and was jointly chaired by Asif Ali Zardari and Bilawal Bhutto Zardari. Presidential candidate Aitzaz Ahsan, Sindh CM Murad Ali Shah, Faryal Talpur, Khurshid Shah, Nisar Ahmed Khuhro, Qaim Ali Shah, Naveed Qamar and other party leaders were also present. Speaking to the lawmakers, Zardari said that Aitzaz Ahsan was one of the oldest party friends and party’s candidate for the office of president of Pakistan. Maulana Fazl-ur-Rehman is also a candidate for the same office, but “we have to see which candidate can represent the country more positively and dynamically”, he said.

Ahsan had come forward as attorney of Benazir Bhutto when late president Ishaq Khan had implicated her in a fake case. He had then vowed that he would not allow Ishaq Khan to try Benazir Bhutto; he would try the president instead.

He reiterated his friendship with Maulana Fazl-ur-Rehman but said that his commitment with the PPPP was far bigger than this relationship with Rehman.

“Although JUI-F chief Maulana Fazl-ur-Rehman is like a brother and a friend to me and I have a very close relationship with him but it is not stronger than his relationship with the PPPP,” said the former president.

Zardari said that PPP nominated Ahsan and this would be remembered in the history. He said, “Our friends should realise that his victory would be considered victory of all liberal forces.” He said that Pakistan is facing serious challenges hence the overall situation calls for practical manifestation of serenity and sanity.

Speaking on the occasion, PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari urged legislators to vote for Aitzaz Ahsan and said that every effort is being made to keep unity of the opposition on a one-point agenda. The PPP chairman said that his party would raise its voice against rigging in the general elections because political engineering and rigging would finally cause the masses to lose their faith and trust in the process of elections.

Speaking on the occasion, Aitzaz Ahsan said that foundation of modern democratic politics was laid by Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto and it made him the most popular leader of the country. “The nation stood behind Bhutto and later Benazir Bhutto succeeded his mission,” he said adding, that it was Asif Ali Zardari who maintained unity among party ranks after the death of Benazir.  He also thanked Asif Zardari for nominating him for the presidential slot.