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July 26, 2013
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Campaigning for presidential poll gains momentum

July 26, 2013

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ISLAMABAD: The campaigning for the presidential election has gained momentum as both the government and opposition parties are holding consultative sessions with their allies to gain support for their candidates for the coveted post.
The JUI-F chief, Maulana Fazlur Rehman, called on Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif here at the Prime Minister’s Office on Thursday to discuss the forthcoming presidential election and other matters of mutual interest.
The prime minister said the president represented the Federation and PML-N had chosen a non-controversial figure from a smaller province for the slot with the objective of strengthening the Federation. “All political parties would be contacted for eliciting the maximum support for the PML-N nominee in the upcoming presidential contest,” he said.
Ishaq Dar, Minister for Finance, Maulana Ghafoor Haideri and Akram Khan Durrani also attended the meeting.
According to his spokesperson Jan Achakzai, Fazlur Rehman expressed concern over the nominee of the PML-N for the post of the president. The Maulana complained had the JUI-F been consulted over the candidate’s name earlier, it would have given more worthy options. “The JUI-F is a part of the treasury benches but it was not taken on board,” he complained.
Jan Achakzai, however, quoted the Maulana as saying that he would take a decision about supporting the PML-N candidate after the party meeting today (Friday). The prime minister assured Fazlur Rehman that the JUI-F’s grievances will be addressed.
The PPP is making contacts with the opposition parties to finalise a strategy for contesting or boycotting the presidential elections. On Thursday, PPP Senator Aitzaz Ahsan approached the PTI chief Imran Khan to explore an opportunity to file a joint presidential candidate. The meeting lasted for 20 minutes. According to sources, the PPP is seeking the support of PTI for taking a joint stance on boycotting the elections.
However, the sources said Imran

Khan sought time to consult the top leadership of the party in this regard and would respond to the PPP by today (Friday).
The sources said besides the option of boycotting the presidential elections, the option of filing a joint candidate was also discussed and Imran Khan told the PPP that both the options would be discussed with his party.
Following the meeting, Aitzaz Ahsan told media persons that the meeting was held in a conducive environment. He hoped that the PPP and PTI will agree on the one-point agenda. “We will reach a decision whether to boycott or contest the presidential election with a joint candidate,” he added.
He said during the meeting that lasted for 15 minutes, they understood each other’s point of view. “We will reach a decision today. Wait for good news,” he added.
The PPP committee comprising Aitzaz Ahsan, Opposition Leader Syed Khursheed Shah and presidential candidate Raza Rabbani also met the ANP chief Asfandyar Wali Khan, PML-Q president Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain and QWP chief Aftab Ahmed Khan Sherpao.
The ANP endorsed the candidature of Raza Rabbani and PML-Q chief Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain stressed the need for bringing a consensus candidate for the opposition.Speaking to the media after the meeting, Asfandyar Wali said his party would support any decision taken by the PPP.
The ANP had earlier announced that it would be supporting Rabbani in the presidential election. “You cannot find a better candidate than Raza Rabbani. Although, my party has decided to support Rabbani, a decision to boycott the election in protest against the Supreme Court judgment will be taken by today (Friday),” Asfandyar added.
He expressed reservations over the Supreme Court’s order to hold the presidential election on July 30, instead of the scheduled date of August 6.The PPP’s presidential candidate Rabbani said that the Supreme Court’s decision on holding the election on July 30 would affect the campaign. “I’m meeting with different political parties to chalk out a strategy either to go for the election or to boycott it,” he said. He said the new schedule did not provide enough time for campaign as it would be impossible for him to visit all the provincial headquarters.
Aitzaz Ahsan said the party would evaluate its options on contesting the presidential election. “We will make a final decision after consulting other political parties.”In the meanwhile, in a meeting with the PPP delegation, Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain said efforts of the government and opposition to put forward one presidential candidate had failed due to the PML-N.
Shujaat expressed his desire for a consensus candidate for the presidential election. “My party had to consult with other parties our strategy for the presidential election,” he added.The PPP leaders also met Aftab Sherpao who said that Mian Raza Rabbani should be given an opportunity, while no decision had been taken on boycotting the election.
NNI adds: Rabbani termed the Supreme Court’s decision on the presidential poll date “an attack on the Federation”.He said the verdict of the apex court was an attack on the Federation because it ignored the provincial assemblies.
“I am a presidential candidate but I was not served any notice pertaining to hearing the plea seeking a change in the poll date,” he said. He said the Supreme Court, on the petition of the PML-N, gave a one-sided decision without hearing the other parties. “The Supreme Court even gave the schedule of the presidential election,” he added.
Rabbani told the media that an impression had been created that the electoral college for the presidential poll was only Islamabad while in fact all the four provincial assemblies were included in the electoral college.
He said the new schedule did not provide enough time for his campaign as it would be impossible for him to visit all the provincial headquarters and meet the members of parliament.Asfandyar Wali questioned if it was the constitutional domain of the Supreme Court to announce the schedule of the presidential election. “If the answer is yes, then there is no need for the Election Commission,” he said.

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