Elections cannot be held without making electoral reforms: Zardari

KARACHI: President PPPP Asif Ali Zardari said on Wednesday that a demand for general election is being made in the country, but elections cannot be held without making electoral reforms.

“We have to introduce electoral reforms and reforms in the NAB laws before going to general elections, but yes, the parliament is supreme, and it has the authority to decide when to call an election,” he said while addressing a crowded press conference here at CM House in Karachi. He was flanked by Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah, Minister Information Sharjeel Memon, Minister Labour Saeed Ghani, Minister Local Government Nasir Shah and Advisor Law Murtaza Wahab.

Mr Zardari said that being a political and democratic party, he was not afraid of general elections but before going to election we must introduce election reforms. “The overseas Pakistanis have no idea what the ground realities in country are, but we have to steer it [country] out of the quagmire in which the selected has stuck it up,” he said and added yes, the parliament with its collective wisdom could decided to reserve seats for overseas Pakistanis in the assemblies.

Replying to a question about the interview of Federal Minister Khwaja Asif about holding early elections, Mr Zardari said that it might be his personal opinion but “I have discussed the matter with PML-N Chief Nawaz Sharif the other days and we have agreed to call election once the electoral reforms are made,” he disclosed.

Mr Zardari said that the demand for early elections were being made by the ousted prime minister, but the question is when he [Imran Khan] could not deliver during his around four-year tenure how he would deliver now. “We are capable enough to steer the country out of the present financial crisis as we had successfully taken it out after ousting General Musharraf.

“When we had taken over the government, after Musharraf, the stock exchange was at 10,000 points but through our business friendly policy it had reached to 26,000 points at the end of our tenure,” Mr Zardari said.

The former president said that he had some out of box solution to improve the economy. “For example, we can float 26 percent share of the State Life insurance in the market to generate funds till the restoration of IMF package,” he suggested and also added similarly, the Transmission Lines could be privatized to improve strengthen the national economy.

The PPP chief said that the prices of petroleum products could be increased because their increase squarely affected the prices of other commodities. “I had discussed this matter with Nawaz Sharif, and we have agreed not to increase the prices of petroleum,” he disclosed.

Mr Zardari said that in these days of price hike, people could not afford to pay their electricity bills, therefore we may give solar panels to the people at subsidized rates for their installation at their homes and for their tube wells. “This scheme would save the electricity for industrial purposes,” he said and added we have to envisage a plan to control the price of electricity to control the cost of production.

Asif Ali Zardari said that the democratically ousted government completely failed to handle the economy, therefore nobody could survive his family even at Rs50,000 salary/ monthly income. “We have to think about them – he [Imran Khan] says he was not there to control the prices of tomato and potato but yes, we are here to ensure the provision of vegetables and such other commodities at reasonable rates.

“We have to find out solutions and, of course, we will do – let the prime minister come back,” he said and added the NAB was another issue which needed to be reformed so that it could not be used for victimization of political opponents. “The NAB has demoralized the bureaucracy, therefore they have stopped performing due to its fear,” he said and added “we have to revive the confidence of the bureaucracy by introducing reforms in the NAB laws.”

Replying to a question, the PPP chief said that President Arif Alvi was a dentist, and he did not know how to play politics, therefore he was playing foul.

Lashing out at the `selected’ Asif Ali Zardari said how he was daring to target important institutions in his public meetings and statements. “Our prime minister, Gilani, was removed but we did not talk against the judiciary- I was put in jails for many years even then we didn’t utter a word,” he said and added “Instead of saluting to General Bajwa for declaring his institution as apolitical he [Imran Khan] has turned against him,” he surprised.

To a question about the suicide attack by a Baloch lady, former President said that it has shocked him to note that a `daughter’ took such an extreme action after being brainwashed. He added that we have to stop such extreme steps by educating them.

“They [Chinese] were teachers and teaching Chinese language at Karachi University which was a good service,” he said and added China was our brother country and we must help them to reach warm waters. “The development of Gwadar and operation of its port would usher in a new vista of development and prosperity in the country in general and in Balochistan in particular,”: he said.

Talking about water shortages, Asif Zardari said that the standing crops were turning pale but now the glaciers had started melting and inshallah the water shortage would come to an end shortly.

To a question, he said that ouster of the selected government had become inevitable because it was the question of our survival, the survival of 300 million people and the survival of Pakistan. “His [Imran Khan] government had completely failed in every aspect and its further stay in power was against the national interest.

The PPP President said that MQM would play its role in the resolution of national and provincial issues. “They want to work with political forces for resolution of all the standing issues,” he said. Their governors would be appointed shortly, he said.

Replying to a question, the former President said that he had not read `letter’ but now the ousted prime minister was quoting. “His narrative is a bubble of hot air and it would fizzle out itself,” he said and added the American government had its own issues- the issues of Ukraine war and various others so why would they hatch a conspiracy to oust a selected prime minister/government.

Had the American removed the regime in Pakistan, the Biden administration would have helped our new regime in strengthening our economy though Mr Biden was my friend. Had the Americans changed the regime in Pakistan, they would have helped our new government in getting the IMF package restored. “This is a baseless narrative of the ousted prime minister trying to sell in the market but it is bound to bounce shortly,” he said.

Mr Zardari concluding his media talk said that the population of the country was 300 million not 200 million and “we 300 million people have to make Pakistan a peaceful, prosperous and educated nation.”

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