Tuesday July 23, 2024

Battle for Punjab PPP-PMLN war of words intensifies

By Asim Yasin
September 19, 2023

ISLAMABAD: The exchange of accusations and counter accusations between two former allies in previous government –PPP and PMLN — has intensified for the battle for Punjab before the upcoming elections.

Both the parties accused each other for political engineering in Punjab during the 2013 elections. PMLN Senator Irfan Siddiqui said that PPP was obliterated from Punjab in 1985, not in 2013.

“The PMLN had absolutely no support from any corner during 2013 elections and I do not understand how Bilawal Bhutto can claim of a plan to oust the PPP from Punjab in 2013,” said Senator Irfan Siddiqui while talking to The News.

While the PPP Information Secretary Faisal Karim Kundi said that the role of ex-chief justice Iftikhar Chaudhary in the 2013 elections is not a secret. “How long do they keep the seats on the plate as the time for stealing election results with the help of umpires is over,” he said.

Meanwhile, Senator Irfan Siddiqui said that at the time of 2013 elections, Asif Ali Zardari was a powerful president and the caretaker prime minister Mir Hazar Khan Khoso, along with caretaker chief ministers of all the four provinces, was proposed and recommended by PPP. “General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, the Chief of Army Staff, had previously worked with both Ms Benazir Bhutto and Asif Ali Zardari for years and was rewarded a three-year extension by former president Asif Ali Zardari,” he said.

He said that he respects Bilawal Bhutto Zardari as a young politician, but believes he may not be aware of the facts. “In our entire history, only the 2013 elections were declared by the Supreme Court as free and fair,” he said.

Senator Irfan Siddiqui clarified that the PPP lost from Punjab not just in 2013, but also in all previous elections in 2008, 1997, 1993, 1990, and 1988. When asked about criticism on the current caretaker government, Senator Siddiqui suggested that it might be part of the PPP’s strategy, possibly preempting a potential defeat.

He noted that during elections, political tensions run high and should be taken as a routine matter. He also stated that despite the court’s decision to cancel the NAB amendments, it won’t impact former prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s planned return to Pakistan on October 21.

In response to another question, Senator Siddiqui said that in the upcoming elections, PMLN’s key narrative will be its performance.

While Secretary Information PPP Faisal Karim Kundi said that distortion of facts by Senator Irfan Siddiqui will not benefit the PMLN as in 1985 Shaheed Benazir Bhutto and Begum Nusrat Bhutto were in exile and boycott of 1985 elections was a conspiracy against PPP and democracy while in the elections of 1990 and 1997, obstacles were placed in the way of PPP.

He said former president Asif Ali Zardari was held hostage during the 1990 and 1997 elections. Faisal Karim Kundi said a level playing field is essential for a transparent and fair election as the time for stealing election results with the help of umpires is over.

Faisal Karim Kundi said the PPP has done public service before and will continue to do so. “Under the leadership of Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, the PPP will achieve a historic victory in Punjab as well,” he said. He said the opponents of the PPP are afraid of the sure victory of the PPP.