After a two-day-long meeting of its Central Executive Committee (CEC) meeting, the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) on Tuesday announced it will not join any government, but will support “on an issue-by-issue basis and for the election of a prime minister,” the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) to achieve political stability.
Addressing a press conference, PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari said the CEC meeting had discussed the prevailing political situation as well as Pakistan reaching a crisis point. “The PPP will stay with Pakistan, make the country stable, steer it out of crisis,” he said, stressing it will raise slogan of “Pakistan first” and has taken all decisions in light of this.
Acknowledging that the PPP does not have mandate to form the federal government, Bhutto-Zardari said he would not put his name forward for candidacy of the Prime Minister of Pakistan. “There are two other groups—PMLN and independents—who have more numbers than PPP in the National Assembly,” he said, regretting the PTI had announced it would not engage in dialogue with the PPP.
“That rules out the possibility of an independent-led government, and of a PTI-led government,” he said. “That leaves us with PMLN, who is the only political party in NA that has reached out to the PPP and invited us to join their government,” he added.
“While we are not in a position to join the federal government ourselves, we would also not be interested in taking ministries in such a setup,” he said, adding the PPP did not wish to see political chaos or perpetual crisis in the country. “If the PTI doesn’t want our votes, and if PMLN doesn’t form majority, and if I’m not a candidate for the P.M., and House fails to elect a P.M. and fails to form government, we will have to go back to elections,” he said. “This will lead to another perpetuation of political crisis. Political stability will not return and political instability will increase,” he warned.
Stressing such a scenario would be felt most by the people of Pakistan who are already reeling from an economic crisis, terrorism, and threat of climate change, he noted the PPP had contested elections on a manifesto on issues of public importance and a commitment to restoring political stability and ending political toxicity. “To that end, on an issue to issue basis, the PPP will be willing to support a candidate for the P.M. to ensure government is formed and political stability restored,” he said.
“In that context, PPP has decided we will form a committee of members of the party to engage with other political parties to achieve political stability and form government,” he reiterated.
Referring to the 16-month Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM)-led government, he said the PPP did not have positive memories of its alliance with PMLN, as many of its workers’ concerns were not addressed. The committee, he said, would ensure this issue was resolved.
To a question, Bhutto-Zardari said the split mandate is evident that the public wants all political forces to work together and fresh elections would likely be just as controversial. “It is unfortunate the PTI is still saying it will not talk to anyone,” he said, describing this as anti-democratic, adding the PMLN was willing to talk, but if it didn’t listen, it would ultimately damage the country. He stressed it was essential for PMLN, as well as all other political parties, to stop thinking of their own politics and worry solely about Pakistan. “The enemies of Pakistan will try to take advantage of the situation developing in the country,” he warned, adding political victimization must end.
On whether the PPP would join the opposition, the PPP chief said he did not believe he could become opposition leader and so the party would support the government in accordance with its manifesto.
As for the election, he said, it was unfortunate that, as in the past, there were still complaints of irregularities; lack of level playing field; and rigging. The CEC, he said, would collect all such complaints and then sit with other parties to address them so they did not recur in future. “We will accept results of these polls in protest in larger interest of country and stability,” he stressed.
“Pakistan is burning,” he warned. “If anyone holds the means to put this out, it is President Asif Ali Zardari and I would hope he can retake the higher office this time,” he added.
To a question, he acknowledged that this decision would damage his political standing in Punjab, but said the alternate was damaging the country out of personal interest.