The Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) on Wednesday suggested it is willing to form an electoral alliance with the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) in Punjab to counter the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz), with which it had formed a coalition in the former government.
“We may enter into an alliance with other parties, including the PTI, against the PMLN,” PPP Punjab Acting President Rana Farooq Saeed told a press conference in Lahore. “PPP opponents are making alliances and the party is also ready to devise its strategy for the upcoming elections,” he continued, in an apparent reference to PMLN leader Bashir Memon’s recent statement indicating the party could contest elections in Sindh in alliance with the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan and the Grand Democratic Alliance.
Flanked by Shehzad Cheema and other local leaders, Farooq said the PPP was ready to confront challenges posed by political rivals ahead of the next general elections. He said it was nothing extraordinary in politics for electoral alliances to be formed and dissolved, adding this was not indicative of any personal enmity. He further claimed the results of the next elections would be unacceptable if any party were kept out of the process.
Referring to the May 9 riots, which led to a massive crackdown against the PTI, he said the people directly involved in the violence should be prosecuted, but called for “forgiveness” for “silent spectators” and PTI workers “misled” by their leadership. “Don’t pick and choose,” he said in an apparent call to the establishment. “Allow all to contest the polls. Ensure free and fair polls if you wish the save the state,” he added.
Blaming the PMLN for attempting to keep the PTI out of the electoral race—despite the PPP being part and parcel of the government that initiated the cases against the party’s leadership after the May 9 riots—Farooq alleged that polls were only occurring under an “arrangement.”
Praising Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sikandar Sultan Raja for pledging to ensure a level playing field to all the contenders, the PPP leader urged him to also take notice of development work initiated by the caretaker government in Punjab. He alleged that despite a ban on new gas connections, pipelines were being laid in Toba Tek Singh district.
To a question, he blamed former finance minister Ishaq Dar for the prevailing economic crunch, maintaining the country’s revival required the PMLN leader’s removal. In a seeming echo of the PMLN recalling the “glory days” of its 2013-17 rule, he referred to the 1977 government of PPP founder Zulfikar Ali Bhutto as having a “strong” economy. He claimed privatization had damaged the economy.