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Bilawal Remains Skeptical of Free and Fair Polls

PPP leader continues to lament electoral rigging without clarifying who is assuring political rivals of victory

by Staff Report

File photo, courtesy PPP Media Cell

Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari on Monday reiterated his skepticism of free and fair elections, adding that his party will not accept the results of rigged polls.

Addressing a workers’ convention in Nowshera as part of his ongoing tour of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, he claimed that “certain parties” are saying they have reached an “agreement” on the next government. As per routine, he did not identity the entities who entered into any such deal, though the target of his ire in recent days has increasingly been the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz).

Urging the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and the chief justice of Pakistan (CJP) to ensure the forthcoming general elections were free of controversy, he warned that conducting polls with “questionable results” would just be a waste of money.

“There’s no use of an election if the results are pre-decided,” he said, noting that if someone assumed the premiership in this manner, all rivals would protest and hamper the functioning of the next government. “We will only accept the choice of the people, not anyone else’s,” he said, reiterating that “transparent polls” were the only solution to the problems facing Pakistan.

It is practically tradition in Pakistan for any party that doesn’t secure a majority in elections to protest the results and allege rigging. This occurrence has played out in all polls, including those designated as “largely free and fair” by international observers.

The former foreign minister also criticized the leaders of both the PTI and PMLN, though he did not name either. “There used to be a man who was desirous of sending everyone to prison but is in jail himself,” he said, referring to PTI chief Imran Khan. “He might have now learned his lesson,” he added.

“The other one tends to forget everything while in power and sings praises of Ayub Khan but afterwards tries to make futile efforts to portray themselves as Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and the flag-bearers of democracy and the Constitution,” he said, in a seeming reference to PMLN leader Nawaz Sharif. It would be better for them, he said, if they backed democracy and the Constitution regardless of being in power.

Referring to a proposal of Sharif to attract investment without raising questions of investors, Bhutto-Zardari claimed the PPP believed they should be questioned. “We would ask them whether they are taking care of our laborers, increasing their wages and looking after their well-being,” he said, maintaining the common man must prosper for the country to do so.

Bhutto-Zardari’s address came a day after his father, and PPP Co-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari, issued a statement maintaining the country was proceeding toward transparent elections.

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