PESHAWAR - Calling for good ties with neighbouring countries, Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari said on Sunday that though the situation was not that good in the region when they were in power.

“We kept cordial relations with neighbouring states... Relations with Afghanistan were excellent and there was peace with India during our time,” Zardari said addressing party leaders and workers at a luncheon hosted by Arbab Alamgir.

“Our neighbours should be our friends. The PPP wants friendly ties with all neighbouring states. We will not let the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) government sow discord with neighbouring countries, he said.

Zardari remarked, “Prime Miniter Nawaz Sharif has the same thought process as the Americans when it comes to waging wars, but we will not let this [war with neighbours] happen.”

The PPP co-chairperson said that they could not properly campaign for the last general elections in 2013.

He said, “This time we will take our campaign to every town and house of the country. The PML-N will not succeed in forming a government again in Punjab.

The PPP won’t allow rigging in the next general elections. The PPP workers would be sitting in front of polling booths and would leave only after receiving results. The rulers would not be able to steal the mandate again through rigging.”

He was of the view that the government has failed to stabilise the economy on the one hand while on other it was relentlessly printing currency notes. “The rulers believe that the ‘Mughal era’ would continue,” Zardari said, adding that this won’t happen.

He said that immature people could not see that flames were raging in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP). “People of this province have suffered a lot. And now, even their national identity cards are being blocked... they are being imprisoned.”

After coming to power, he said, his party would release the blocked CNICs of all the internally displaced persons that have created problems for Pakhtuns.

“Also, Pakhtuns are being asked why they are there in Punjab, in Balochistan, in Islamabad. It is the Sindh province where Pakhtuns are welcomed, and I am proud that Karachi is the biggest city of Pakhtuns now.”

In a reference to PM Nawaz and Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif, Zardari said they used to say that they will change their names if they could not end power loadshedding within months. “So, today, I ask the world what we should name them [as they have failed to fulfil their promise]”.

About Fata’s future status, the former president said that the PPP has decided that tribal areas must be merged with the KP.

“Rights should be given to tribal youth and women, the same rights that have been given to residents of other provinces,” he said.

Zardair said that if they were given the opportunity they will give Fata people their rights. He said that he as president had appointed KP governor from Fata because he wanted to remove the sense of deprivation.

He announced that if they came to power the PPP would double the Benazir Income Support Programme cards in KP. “The PPP had given Pakhtuns their identity and it will protect their rights in the future also.”

The PPP leader said, “We dreamt of the CPEC for KP and Balochistan. Unfortunately, it has been diverted to Islamabad and Punjab.” He said that his party would fulfil its dream by bringing it back from Islamabad to the province.

Coming hard on PTI chief Imran Khan, the former president said Imran was neither a Pakhtun nor has he any interest in the solution of Pakhtun’s problems. He said that Imran Khan could have changed the fate of Pakhtuns if he was sincere with them and interested in doing so.