PESHAWAR: With an eye on the upcoming general elections, the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party’s leaders in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa are hopeful that disqualification of former premier Yousaf Raza Gilani by the Supreme Court will benefit the party in electoral terms in the polls.
Senior PPP leader and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Excise and Taxation Minister Liaqat Shahab admitted to The Express Tribune that he expects the saga to brighten the party’s prospects for a return to power. However, he was quick to tow the party line. “The PPP followed the court verdict to strengthen democracy in this country. We have always taken such initiatives,” he said.
Gilani, who served as the prime minister for a little over four years, was ousted by the Supreme Court after it declared that he had committed contempt of court by refusing to write letters to Swiss authorities under the court’s order in the National Reconciliation Ordinance case. Another PPP leader, Raja Pervaiz Ashraf, a former water and power minister who has also been in a tussle with the court over alleged corruption in Rental Power Projects, was sworn in as prime minister on June 22.
Shahab also accepted that the acute power crisis was the gravest challenge faced by the party on its way to the elections. “People will soon see some improvement in the situation,” he said.
Meanwhile, Senior Minister for Planning and Development Rahim Dad Khan openly stated that the issue will bolster the party’s fortunes while carefully inserting the party line to his comments. “PPP has sacrificed for democracy in the country and Gilani’s disqualification was also a sacrifice for democracy like that of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and Benazir Bhutto,” he said.
Khan said that when the matter concerned is democracy and supremacy of parliament, then PPP does not think about the consequences.
When asked about the prospects of an electoral alliance with the Awami National Party, which is the coalition partner in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, Khan said that it was a decided matter that both parties will contest elections on their own. PPP has been a junior partner in the ANP-led government of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. “We will contest elections on our own,” Khan asserted.
However, his remarks appeared to contradict Shahab who did not rule out an electoral alliance with the ANP.
Party’s provincial information secretary Syed Ayub Shah was of the view that it was time to prepare for the upcoming elections. He said that the PPP had always stood for democracy and for democratic principles. “A lot of political activity, including preparation of voters’ lists, will take place during the remaining tenure of the PPP government,” he said.
He also advised opposition parties to brace themselves for the general elections during this period. About the opposition’s agitation, he said that if the opposition goes for it, then they will also go through similar treatment in their term.
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