In an unexpected turn of events, former president and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Co-Chairman, Asif Ali Zardari, has expressed his support for the concept of electoral alliances among various political parties in the lead-up to the general elections scheduled for February 8, 2024.
Addressing a press conference in Sindh’s Ghotki district, Zardari welcomed the idea of multiple political parties forming alliances to contest elections together, even in the face of reports suggesting a potential electoral alliance by the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) against his party in Sindh.
Zardari, renowned for his political acumen, did not perceive this development as a threat to the PPP’s election prospects. Instead, he extended a warm welcome to those who intend to compete against his party. During the press conference, he emphasised that the PPP would stay true to the principles and philosophy of its founder, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, throughout its electoral campaign.
The announcement by Zardari comes on the heels of reports indicating that the PML-N is contemplating forming an alliance with several opposition parties to challenge the elections in Sindh. This prospective alliance is expected to encompass parties such as the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P), Grand Democratic Alliance (GDA), and Jamiat Ulama-e-Islam (JUI-F).
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Adding a layer of intrigue to this unfolding political landscape, the PML-N recently appointed Bashir Memon, a former Director General of the Federal Investigation Agency, as its Sindh president.
Memon previously headed the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) established by the Supreme Court to investigate Asif Ali Zardari, his sister Faryal Talpur, Anwar Majeed of Omni Group, and former Pakistan Stock Exchange chairman Hussain Lawai for alleged money laundering totaling over Rs35 billion through fake accounts.
Reports suggest that seat adjustments are in the works between various opposition parties in Sindh, with a strong intent to contest the elections robustly against the PPP.
A delegation from MQM-P has met with Nawaz Sharif in Lahore, and both parties have officially declared an electoral alliance for the upcoming elections. A joint committee comprising three representatives from each party will facilitate this alliance and aims to develop a comprehensive charter to address the challenges faced by Sindh, especially in its urban areas, within the next 10 days.
These alliances are rooted in the results of the 2018 elections, where the PPP secured 3.5 million votes, narrowly surpassing its opponents with 3.2 million votes across Sindh.
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Sources within the PML-N clarified that telephonic conversations between Zardari and Nawaz took place when the PML-N leader returned to the country. However, they refuted reports of further engagement between the two leaders since then. Additionally, the PML-N is expected to extend an invitation to JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman in this regard once he returns from his diplomatic mission focused on garnering support for the Palestinian cause by meeting international leaders of the Muslim Ummah.
The PML-N also expressed reluctance to engage with the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) due to its alleged involvement in the events of May 9, citing the belief that the PTI should receive a clean chit from the courts first.
Meanwhile, Nawaz Sharif is planning visits to all four provinces, with a particular emphasis on strengthening his party’s presence in various regions.
In today’s media interaction, Zardari also commented on the removal of the previous PTI government, stating that it was not ousted for power-seeking motives but due to concerns about the government’s performance.
He also addressed the Palestinian issue, expressing regret over Pakistan’s limited involvement and emphasising that he had been an early advocate for the Palestinian cause. Zardari underscored that during his party’s tenure, the primary goal was the betterment of the country and economic development.