PESHAWAR - Pakistan People’s Party Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari alleged on Saturday that workers of his party were being asked to join puppet parties such as the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf and the Grand Democratic Alliance, but such attempts had badly failed so far.

“Workers of my party are being asked to join puppet parties like the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and the Grand Democratic Alliance (GDA). But, I am proud of them as workers of Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s party firmly stand by me,” he said while speaking at a news conference here.

Undeterred by targeting election rallies in Peshawar, Bannu and Mastung, Bilawal said that the PPP would fully take part in elections scheduled for July 25.

“I will say categorically that the PPP will never boycott the general election. But, I will demand to hold free and fair elections and also on time,” he said.

“The PPP has certain reservations about elections and we would take them up with the Election Commission of Pakistan. We will also raise the reservations in the Parliament.  Pre-poll rigging attempts are also underway in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa,” he said.

He said that polls will fall under the shadow of the doubt if all political parties were not provided the level-playing field. “Questions would be raised on results if each party is not given the equal opportunity of running their elections campaigns accordingly,” he said.

“Here in Peshawar, we are constantly being told not to go out from cantonment areas. How will I run my election drive, if there are such restrictions,” he said adding,” I cannot run the election drive while sitting at home”.

“Not only this, when I was coming to Peshawar, my flight was not allowed.  We are being stopped at different places. We don’t have a level playing field, PPP is being stopped at different places,” he said.

Bilawal said that the PPP postponed its rally in Malakand following the Mastung blast. “After such a deadly attack, we don’t want to put thousands of lives at stake by holding public meetings,” said the PPP chief. 

“Though my party workers in Malakand have been expecting me to visit the area, I don’t want to put their lives at risk nor do I think it is appropriate to have big political shows at a time when the people of Pakistan are mourning,” he said. Announcing that his party has temporarily suspended its election campaign, he said that “How can we chant our slogans and play our political anthems after hundreds have been martyred.”

He said that he kept saying that the National Action Plan was not being implemented, but it fell on deaf ears. He lamented that till date, “we have not been able to resolve this issue, nor have reached a consensus on it”.

He predicted that he would bring the entire political leadership on the same page on the issue if he was voted to power. He also stressed the need for strengthening institutions saying, “It is the only option available to address problems and issues of the people”.

He said that a lot had been achieved through the democratic journey during the last 10 years but it was a matter of concern that certain elements did not learn anything from past mistakes. 

The PPP chairman said that he had met with many “difficulties ever since he left Karachi to run the party’s election campaign. “The PPP has also not been getting a sufficient coverage in the media. In South Punjab, particularly in Multan and Och Sharif, hurdles were created in our ways,” he said.

Later while addressing a meeting of the party workers in Malakand, Bilawal said that the country’s big issue was militancy. He said that the PPP postponed holding a big election rally just because of the recent deadly attack on election rallies in Peshawar, Bannu and Mastung.

He told his party workers that he would come back after elections to Malakand for holding a big gathering. Bilawal, who is also contesting elections from NA-8 Malakand, said that he would try his level best to complete the mission of Benazir Bhutto.  He said that he would serve the people from the core of his heart if get elected.

‘Zardari will be best

choice for next PM’

Monitoring Desk adds: In an interview with a private TV channel, Bilawal said he believed his father, Asif Ali Zardari, is the ‘best choice’ for prime minister if a coalition government is formed following the July 25 election.

“He [Zardari] has experience managing a coalition government and not just managing but he was the first civilian president to complete his term and the coalition government was also the first to complete its full term,” Bilawal said.

When asked why he would not be the prime minister if there was a coalition government, Bilawal responded that he was 100 percent ready for this responsibility.

“PPP has ideological differences with the PML-N and PTI. I think that whoever can implement our manifesto and assure us that the NFC award will be implemented and there will be no compromise on the 18th amendment, then we can work with them.”

Bilawal stressed that the best situation would be for the coalition government to be led by the PPP.