ISLAMABAD -  Pakistan People’s Party and its extension – the Pakistan People’s Party Parliamentarians – will request the Election Commission of Pakistan to grant ‘arrow’ symbol to both the parties for the by-elections to be contested by Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and Asif Ali Zardari, party leaders said.

PPPP Secretary General Senator Farhatullah Babar said there will be no formal alliance between the two parties and both “will keep their separate identities.”

The law, he said, allows the two parties to contest under one symbol if they are in agreement. “The law permits the PPP and the PPPP to contest on arrow if both the parties request the ECP to grant them a single symbol. When the two parties agree, there should be no issue,” he added.

Senator Babar said the list of the new office-bearers of the PPP and the PPPP will be submitted to the ECP soon together with a request for allocation of a single symbol.

“We have a precedent in Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal(MMA) where several parties kept their identities but contested under one symbol,” he maintained.

Babar said Bilawal will contest on a PPP ticket while Zardari will be the PPPP’s candidate. “But this is only a formality. You can call them both the PPP’s candidates or the PPPP’s nominees. It doesn’t make any difference,” he said.

Zardari and his son Bilawal were elected as PPPP and PPP leaders this week by the parties. Former Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf and former Punjab Governor Latif Khosa were replaced as Secretary Generals of the PPPP and the PPP with Senator Farhatulah Babar and former Senate chairman Syed Nayyar Bokhari, PPP leaders said after a meeting with Bilawal here.

The PPPP has been contesting the polls on behalf of the PPP since 2002 and efforts to re-engage the PPP have faced legal hurdles. It is also expected the PPPP will contest the fourth successive general elections for the PPP in 2018 as merger of the electoral extension with the parent party seemed tricky.

The PPPP was created from within the PPP in 2002 during the military regime of Pervez Musharraf to dodge a law that prohibited the parties led by convicted leaders from contesting the polls. The law kept the late Benazir Bhutto and incumbent Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif out of the electoral race.

The law – now scrapped - also banned individuals from becoming the prime minister for a third term. While the PPP crated a separate branch to contest the polls, Nawaz Sharif relinquished his post to his brother Shahbaz Sharif to make way for his party – the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) to contest the polls.  Both the parties performed reasonably well keeping in view that arch nemesis Musharraf was in power.

The PPPP contested again in 2008 to win the general polls for the PPP and in 2013 to end up as the second largest bloc in the National Assembly. It won elections in Sindh to form the provincial government.

In Pakistan the PPP has been granted the election symbol of ‘two swords’ by the Election Commission while the PPPP has been contesting on ‘arrow.’ The PPP owns ‘arrow’ as the election symbol in Azad Jammu Kashmir.

PPPP Secretary Information Faisal Karim Kundi said the party was excited and waiting for Zardari and Bilawal to enter the parliament. “Our top two leaders will infuse the energy we need to prepare for the next general elections. They will also mobilise the opposition,” he added.

PPP central Punjab Secretary General Nadeem Afzal Chann said Zardari and Bilawal will contest on same election symbol.

PPP leader Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar said Bilawal conducted interviews for district office-bearers of Rawalpindi division and Islamabad. “Interviews for district office-bearers for Sargodha division will be conducted on January 10,” he added.

Separately, a PPP statement said a meeting regarding organisation of party was held at Zardari House here Monday. Bilawal presided over the meeting.  Interviews of aspirants from Rawalpindi division for different Party posts were held.

The meeting was attended by former Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf, Secretary General PPP Nayyar Hussain Bokhari, Secretary Information PPP Chaudhry Manzoor, President Central Punjab PPP Qamar Zaman Kaira, General Secretary Central Punjab PPP Nadeem Afzal Chan, Secretary Information PPP Central Punjab Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar, Political Secretary to the Chairman PPP Jamil Soomro, members Federal Council PPP Malik Hakmeen Khan and Abrar Rizvi, Fauzia Habib, Zamurrad Khan, Amir Fida Piracha, Murtaza Satti, Rashid Mir and workers.

Addressing the workers, Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari paid tributes to senior workers of PPP who sacrificed a lot during dictatorships and remained steadfast with democracy and party ideals.

“PPP workers are his strength and asset for the party,” he said adding he would make Pakistan a country envisioned by his mother Benazir Bhutto with the help of devoted and committed party workers. “The future belongs to the followers of Bhutto family,” he added.