While speculation on early elections is rife, President Asif Ali Zardari has asked leaders of opposition political parties to wait eight more months.
The president claimed that the government was under no threat and would complete its tenure, which ends in March 2013. “I will request my impassioned friends to wait eight more months,” sources quoted President Zardari as saying in his address to Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) ministers and senior party leaders at Bilawal House on Friday.
During the meeting, the concerns of the coalition partners and Lyari were discussed. The president is also said to have resolved that the incumbent government would set a new precedent by holding free and fair elections in the country, adding that the PPP had always avoided politics of confrontation.
Sources privy to proceedings of the meeting told The Express Tribune that the president, while referring to the complaints of coalition partners MQM and PML-F, told party leaders that “[PPP] have to jointly contest the elections and make a coalition government in the upcoming set. You have to resolve their issues.”
MNA Abdul Qadir Patel, who is also president of PPP Karachi division, briefed President Zardari about the growing resentment among the people of Lyari as well as a huge public gathering organised by Awami Tehreek along with leaders of the defunct Peoples Amn Committee (PAC).
The president is said to have asked party leaders to woo the enraged people of the area. “An operation is not the solution; you have to negotiate with the enraged people. The issue of Lyari is political and it cannot be resolved administratively,” President Zardari was quoted as saying. Informed that the people of Lyari wanted cases against PAC leaders, including Uzair Baloch, withdrawn, the president asked Patel to initiate negotiations in this regard. Party leaders were also instructed to organise a public gathering in Lyari soon after Eidul Fitr.
“Lyari is PPP’s fort and we cannot lose it at any cost,” President Zardari told the meeting.
He is also said to have asked PPP leaders to expedite the process to establish a local government system. A meeting regarding development work on the shrine of Sufi saint Lal Shahbaz Qalandar, was also held. The president expressed his reservation over the slow pace of work and directed the concerned officials to compete the work within three months. “Every time I come here and get a briefing on it and listen to you people saying the work will be completed soon,” he added.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 21st, 2012.