GARHI KHUDA BAKHSH: President Asif Ali Zardari on Thursday said the Pakistan People’s Party will install a transparent caretaker set-up, in consultation with all political parties and the opposition, to ensure holding of free and fair polls.
Addressing a huge gathering to mark the fifth martyrdom anniversary of Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto, the president said the government has done the necessary legislation for putting in place a caretaker set-up, and the caretaker prime minister will be brought in taking all the stakeholders into confidence.
“The set-up will be put in place in consultation with the opposition and other political parties so that the general elections are held in a free, fair and impartial manner,” he added.
He said the sole objective of setting up an independent election commission was to ensure that no hidden agenda could be achieved.
Attired in a black shalwar kameez and a Sindhi cap, the president said his government was all set to complete its five-year term and will be holding polls.
“We have taken all measures to ensure the holding of free, fair and transparent elections,” the president said and added that no one should have any doubt in this regard.
He said: “We have served 12-year-long jail terms and are not afraid of any thing.
“If needed, we will fight back, as we have fought for this freedom and will not let anyone usurp it at any cost,” he added.
He said the Egyptian model of governance cannot be pursued in Pakistan. “If someone thinks that it can be followed, then he is wrong, as it will not work here,” he noted.
He, however, urged all the proponents of the idea to come forward and be a part of the electoral process. He said politics was not a day-long affair and it takes decades to make a strong country and nation. He said the party was here to stay for a long time to come and continue to serve the masses.
He said certain internal and external forces did not wish democracy to succeed, but expressed his firm resolve that just like the government has completed five years of democracy, it will continue to flourish and gain more strength in the days ahead.
“With the support of the people we will fight all the forces that are against democracy,” Zardari said.
He expressed the hope that the media that was given independence will also play its due role and ensure that the freedom acquired was not taken back at any cost.
The president termed Hamid Raza Kazmi the only political prisoner in the country, and pointed out that this was despite the fact that he was part of the ruling party. He also lauded former Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani for sacrificing his post and did not abandon the party like the “uncles”, who had left Shaheed Benazir Bhutto in the past.
“We believe in doing politics, but have neither done any injustice to anyone nor will we let anyone do injustice to us,” he said.
He said the PPP averted an Arab Spring sort of situation after the assassination of Shaheed Benazir Bhutto, only by pursuing the slogan of “Pakistan Khappay”.
“We have never compromised politics for any gains and never pleaded to anyone to let us go abroad on a plane,” he remarked.
Zardari said it was a day of sorrow and joy for him as his son, a worker of the PPP, was amongst his extended party.
He said it was a day of sadness and joy for him as the young Bilawal, who has completed his education, was now joining the people to learn to live with them and serve them as his parents and elders did for decades.
He said the PPP always took all political parties along and has never shied away from it. He attributed this to the late Nusrat Bhutto who initiated the policy of reconciliation and vowed to fight the dictator General Ziaul Haq.
The president said the government has set new standards of accommodation and tolerance and said those who follow will now have to come up to the mark to stand up to these benchmarks.
Zardari reiterated that the PPP has vowed to save democracy and all political forces in the country have expressed their resolve to stand by it on this issue.
Earlier, the gathering observed a two-minute silence to pay respects to Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto, who was killed in a terrorist attack in Rawalpindi in 2007.
The custodian of the Holy Qaaba offered fateha and prayers for the departed soul. The president said the PPP has always pursued the politics of principles. He said the Asghar Khan case has exposed the real faces of our opponents. History will continue to unmask their faces in future as well. He said we did not take revenge from anybody but left it to history to do the same.
The president said we have given a new criteria of tolerance and the coming political forces will have to meet this criteria. He said the time will prove that we did the right job.
President Zardari said the caretaker set-up will remain in power for two or three months with only a mandate of holding elections. He made it clear that the caretaker prime minister would be a person with no political background and no personal agenda but only hold elections.