Published On: Thu, May 12th, 2022
Published in Category: Politics

What Imran Khan has done in four years which he will do after holding early elections: Asif Zardari

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ISLAMABAD: Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Co-Chairman and former president Asif Ali Zardari said on Wednesday that elections in the country would be held after the incumbent coalition government implements electoral reforms and amends the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) laws. He said that what Imran Khan has done in four years which he will do after holding early elections. He said that Dr. Arif Alvi lacks thinking as he is a dentist and did not know what it politics, adding that he is making failed effort to do politics and try to create some hurdles but we will handle him.

“We have to change laws and improve them and then go to elections. Whether it takes 3 or 4 months, we have to work on implementation of policies and improving the electoral process,” Asif Ali Zardari said at a press conference in Karachi.

Asif Ali Zardari said he had consulted Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif and “made him understand that as soon as our reforms and low-hanging fruit targets are complete [we can go to polls]”.

The former president said the coalition government had “no issue” with voting rights and representation for overseas Pakistani, adding that a number of seats could be specified for them in assemblies like the one reserves for women and minorities after discussions.

In response to a question about Defence Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif’s interview in which he said the possibility of holding elections before November could not be ruled out, Asif Zardari said the PML-N leader had his own thoughts and was bound to listen to his party’s directives. “The PML-N decided with me that until electoral reforms were brought, there would be no [talk] about the new army chief’s appointment.” Once the electoral reforms had been introduced and the economic situation had improved and the parliament believed it was time to go for elections, polls could then be held, he added.

The army was “apolitical” for the first time, he said, asking whether the situation warranted saluting Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa or “fighting” with him.

Talking about the no-confidence vote that led to the ouster of former prime minister Imran Khan, Asif Zardari said it was “good to know that the army can remain neutral”. He expressed the hope that the army would continue to be “apolitical” and any problems that arose could be solved by national representatives. Asif Zardari said that the army has become apolitical and it did not ask any member to vote for me or Shehbaz Sharif, adding that we have come to know that they could remain neutral and apolitical and we will continue our efforts that they should remain apolitical.

When asked whether he would salute former Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) chief Lt Gen Faiz Hameed, Zardari replied, “he has been khuddi laen (sidelined).”

Talking about the judiciary, which has been criticised by PTI Chairman Imran, he said he had never run a campaign against them. “[Former military ruler] Pervez Musharraf kept me in jail for five years but we did not attack his house and I have said internationally, I want to see Musharraf alive. “I think we should let the institution do its work and help them.”

He alleged that the bureaucracy had been destroyed during the PTI government’s tenure and relations with other countries were “not even present”, which the incumbent government would try to improve.

He slammed Imran Khan for labeling his opponents as Mir Jafars and Mir Sadiqs. “If anyone can run the country, it is us, not him. His own friends left him because they (PTI) could not fulfill their political commitments.”

Asif Zardari, while responding to a question, said he had not read the cable that Imran Khan claimed contained proof of a “foreign conspiracy” to oust him.

“I do not believe any [US] State Department official is irresponsible enough to [say] what you have read out to me. There is no such thing. He (Imran) has created a political myth. What need does the US have [to interfere]?”

The former president said Pakistan needed to correct its policies and portray itself as a safe haven so the international community would consider it as a partner.

Elaborating on the issues facing the economy, the former president said oil was expensive which was why the country would hold a dialogue. Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif had good relations with Saudi Arabia’s ruling family, he noted.

Asif Zardari said the country would keep facing difficulties until the International Monetary Fund (IMF) programme was brought back on track.

He said he had a lot of “out-of-the-box thought processes”, including about the State Life Insurance Corporation. “It is an investment of more than Rs100 billion. Give 26 per cent of it to a business house with a good track record and float 26pc [of its shares] in the market. You will get at least Rs8 to 10bn.” In addition, all electricity power lines should be privatised, he said.

Asif Zardari said he wanted businesses to consult with the PPP, which would provide out-of-the-box solutions. He claimed that overseas Pakistanis had been “led astray” by the previous government and they had no idea about the prevailing heat and inflation in the country.

In response to a question, Asif Zardari said he had advised Imran Khan to work on an economic charter but the then “selected” prime minister did not understand and the rupee was weakened.

Asif Ali Zardari said that for the first time in the history, the country’s institutions have not been interfering in politics and the Army has taken an oath not to interfere politically. Asif Zardari said that he was speaking after consultation with former PM and PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif. He said at present, oil is expensive in the country and the government do not want to increase the price of oil.

Asif Ali Zardari said the coalition government is endeavouring to put shrinking economy of the country on the right path. He suggested to install solar panels for solving energy crisis in the country. He hoped that water shortage will soon be controlled and issues faced by tail-enders will also be resolved.

Earlier at the outset of the press conference Asif Ali Zardari said that he has never accepted “aik zardari sab pe bhari” slogan but he has accepted the slogan of “aik zardari sab se yar”. He said that only Almighty Allah is powerful and man has no worth, adding that man is the weakest. He said that even in the animal system we are the weakest, humans are the weakest.

Chief Minister Sindh Syed Murad Ali Shah, Information Minister Sindh Sharjeel Inam Memon, provincial minister Saeed Ghani and other PPP leaders were also present on the occasion.