Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari on Thursday continued his attempts to woo the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), urging its supporters to not “waste” their vote on independent candidates and rather support his party to defeat the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) in the Feb. 8 polls.
Over the past month, Bhutto-Zardari has ramped up his verbal tirades against the PMLN, particularly in Punjab, with observers believing this is an attempt to cash in on the “anti-Nawaz” vote primarily affiliated with the PTI. Addressing a public gathering in Gujrat’s Mungowal town, he urged PTI supporters—as well as those of the PMLN—to vote for the PPP if they wished to “uphold sanctity of the vote.”
Making his intentions clear, he said PTI supporters wishing to prevent PMLN leader Nawaz Sharif from becoming prime minister for a fourth time would be wasting their vote if they supported independent candidates. They should rather, he advised, use their right to vote “strategically” as it was a contest between just two parties—the PPP and PMLN.
A day later, on Friday, Bhutto-Zardari thanked PTI Senator Saifullah Abro, a ticket-holder for NA-194, for withdrawing his candidacy in support of the PPP. “PTI workers across the county are beginning to understand that the only way to stop PMLN is to vote for PPP’s arrow on Feb. 8. I also appeal to political workers from all parties to vote smartly and we can pull off a surprise on Election Day,” he wrote on X, formerly Twitter.
In his pleas to PMLN supporters, he claimed they had been “betrayed” by their party. “If PMLN workers want democracy and sanctity of the vote to prevail, they should stamp the symbol of the arrow,” he said, referring to the PPP’s electoral symbol.
The former foreign minister also criticized the PMLN’s failure to publish its manifesto as yet, claiming they were unable to explain how they would resolve the people’s problems if they were brought into power. “They [PMLN] are so confident that they do not even feel the need to campaign,” he claimed, maintaining the PPP was the only party actively campaigning nationwide.