KARACHI/LONDON – Pakistan Peoples Party Parliamentarian (PPP) President Asif Ali Zardari Wednesday said that they were not afraid of early elections but before holding the general elections in the country the government would have to carry out electoral and National Accountability Bureau (NAB) reforms.
He said that PML-N leader Khawaja Asif had his own political thinking as far as the general elections are concerned. “But, I have an agreement with PML-N and that is related to electoral reforms (before going to elections).”
Addressing a press conference at Chief Minister’s House along with Sindh CM Murad Ali Shah and provincial cabinet members in Karachi, Asif Ali Zardari said that the opposition alliance (now coalition government) demanded fresh elections in the past however as soon as they removed the ‘selected’ – a term he used for Imran Khan- through political forces, the PTI leader started demanding fresh elections.
“ What will he get from the fresh election? What he has achieved during four years of his tenure. Nothing!” asked Asif Ali Zardari. While calling for electoral and other reforms before elections, Zardari said that it was needed to address the economic woes of the country that were created owing to the dismal performance of the previous regime.
Asif Zardari said that he was speaking after having detailed discussion with PML-N leader Nawaz Sharif that as soon as reforms are being carried out, they will go for elections. “I telephoned Nawaz Sharif last night and suggested and consulted him on this matter.”
While sharing solutions to the economic woes, he said that currently they have the issue of hike in fuel prices on the cards and since the Sharif family had good relations with the Royal Family of Saudi Arabia, they could seek discounts on oil supplies.
While rejecting any hike in fuel prices, he said that it would affect all commodity prices. “He [Imran Khan] says that he is not in power to address the hike in prices of tomatoes but I have to look into it as we are here to run the kitchens of families in the country. Similarly, I think that unless the IMF program comes to track, the economy will continue to get affected.
While calling for out of the box solutions to the ongoing issues, he suggested that 26 percent shares of the State Life Insurance should be floated in the open market to get Rs8 to Rs 10 billion besides also privatising the power transmission system and promoting solar systems in the country.
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“Business community should sit with us to suggest out of the box solutions to resolve economic issues. I am ready to sit with them.”
Zardari said that Imran Khan has created a cult and his propaganda has affected mostly Overseas Pakistanis who do not live in Pakistan and do not have an idea of issues faced by people on the ground here. “Alhamdulillah! Most of the Pakistanis are not affected by his propaganda.”
Zardari further said that for the first time if the army is apolitical then should he salute COAS Qamar Javed Bajwa or pick a fight with him. “Army has not supported any side in recent political developments and rather remained apolitical as per their oath,” he said adding, they would continue to strive for apolitical role of the military.
Speaking on water scarcity, he said that some glaciers have melted, improving water supplies. “Sindh suffers from water scarcity most owing to being at the tail-end,” he said adding water lining has been performed to improve the water supply.
He blamed Imran Khan for ruining the country’s bureaucracy, and relations with friendly countries who have lost trust in Pakistan. “Our chief executive Yusuf Raza Gilani was ousted by the judiciary but we never launched a campaign against courts like Imran Khan,” he said.
He said that Pakistan has a geo-strategic location and could benefit from it.
He further lamented Imran Khan for labelling political people as Mir Jaffer and Mir Sadiq and asked what his stature is to distribute certificates of traitors. He said that it is they who could run Pakistan not Imran Khan.
“I have previously said that they would fall under the burden of their performance and everyone has witnessed it.”
To a question about the suicide attack by a Baloch lady, former President said that it has shocked him to note that a `daughter’ took such an extreme action after being brainwashed. He added that we have to stop such extreme steps by educating them. “They [Chinese] were teachers and teaching Chinese language at Karachi University which was a good service,” he said and added China was our brother country and we must help them to reach warm waters. “The development of Gwadar and operation of its port would usher in a new vistas of development and prosperity in the country in general and in Balochsitan in particular,”: he said.
To a question, Mr Zardari said that he had suggested the PTI government on the floor of the National Assembly to sign a `charter of economy’ with opposition/political forces but he could not understand the offer and foresee the situation.
‘Possibility of general elections’
PML-N leader and Defence Minister Khawaja Asif said Wednesday that the possibility of holding general elections prior to the appointment of a new army chief cannot be ruled out.
In an interview with BBC Urdu, he said, “It is possible that we hold elections before the [new] army chief’s appointment, before November. There will be a caretaker government at that time. It is also possible that the caretaker government is gone and the new government is [in power] before November.”
In response to a question about whether the PML-N-led coalition government could give the incumbent COAS another extension, Asif said Bajwa had already announced that he does not want his tenure to be extended.
The defence minister said he welcomed the announcement because it had “closed the doors of speculation” and noted that the previous army chief, General (retd) Raheel Sharif, too, had not “directly or indirectly demanded an extension”.
He was then asked whether the entire process for Imran’s removal was because of the former premier’s “desire to do things his way”. Denying that this was the case, Asif said it was the prime minister’s prerogative to choose who he wanted from the list of names recommended to him by the army.
He noted that army chiefs had been appointed in 2013 and 2016 and the premier at the time had taken the decisions on merit and respected the army’s recommendations.
“[Former premier] Nawaz Sharif did not know general Raheel Sharif. He knew General Qamar Javed Bajwa because he had served as the Rawalpindi corps commander. But the institution’s recommendations were respected both times. The [new] appointment will be made on merit in the same way.”
Asif said he believed the process for appointing an army chief should be “institutionalised” similar to the judiciary. “There is no speculation about [a chief justice]. I know who will become the chief justice in 2028.”
“In my personal opinion, instead of discussing the matter of the army chief’s appointment, the process should 100 per cent be based on merit. This is a big and very important issue, it should never be the subject of political debate,” BBC Urdu quoted him as saying.
Consideration of Faiz Hamid’s name
When asked whether the PML-N-led government, which previously criticised former Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) chief Lt Gen Faiz Hamid, would consider him for the army chief’s post, Asif replied, “If his name is on the seniority list, it will definitely be considered.
Referring to the success of the no-trust vote against Imran, the minister said that whatever had happened in the last month gave the opportunity to turn a new leaf and adhere to the limits set by the Constitution. “Pakistan’s security lies in this,” he added. “Imran Khan’s slate has not been wiped clean. This is a political risk for us but it was necessary to take it. The writ of that government was gradually decreasing, the people around Imran Khan were accumulating wealth. His own financial background is very bad. “I will not go into the details. There are many questions on him.”
Kindly add this portion to the ECP story about defections
The ECP verdict available with The Nation says that the record reveals that show cause notices have been issued and also signed by Asad Umer, Secretary General of the PTI, instead of party head as provided under provision of Article 63 A (1).
It is pertinent to mention here that party head is defined in explanation to the provision of Article 63 A (1) which states ‘’Party Head’’ means any person, by whatever name called, declared as such by the party, adding that Asad Umer has not been nominated by the party head to issue such show cause notices.
The decision further said that the arguments and material before the commission was not sufficient and thus the petitioner has failed to substantiate the factum of defection as mentioned in the declaration in compliance with the provision of Article 63 A (1) (a) of the Constitution of Pakistan.