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PML-N still want Maulana Fazlur Rehman as President

03 September, 2018

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LAHORE: The senior leadership of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) Sunday agreed to not withdraw Maulana Fazlur Rehman from the presidential election, a private TV channel reported.

At a press conference after meeting with PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif in Model Town, Fazl urged the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) to agree on the decision made by the joint opposition parties over his name for the slot. He argued that by not withdrawing its candidate, the PPP was providing an opportunity to the PTI to win the race, adding that the party also paved way for Imran Khan to become prime minister by not voting in election for the leader of the house.

Fazl said he has been nominated as presidential candidate by all the opposition parties except the PPP. “We will try to have consensus over a joint opposition candidate,” he said. Fazl said he has cordial relations with the PPP supremo Asif Ali Zardari and requested him to withdraw their candidate for the sake of unity of the opposition parties. “PPP should accept joint opposition’s candidate to express unity among the ranks,” he said.

Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haideri and Akram Khan Durrani accompanied the JUI-F chief, while PML-N’s Khawaja Saad Rafique, Sardar Ayaz Sadiq, Hamza Shehbaz and others were present in the meeting.

A PPP delegation campaigning for the presidential election also reached Lahore on Sunday. The delegation comprises senior party members including former opposition leader in National Assembly Khursheed Shah, Aitzaz Ahsan, Nayyer Bokhari and Qamar Zaman Kaira.

Addressing a news conference in the city along with other party leaders, Qamar Zaman Kaira said if JUI-F chief Fazlur Rehman steps down as presidential candidate, Aitzaz Ahsan will win the September 4 election. “We respect Fazlur Rehman … our effort is to convince him to withdraw his nomination papers. If he agrees, Aitzaz Ahsan will be the winner,” he added.

The PPP leader said the opposition parties must stay strong and united to keep a check on the Imran Khan-led PTI government. “It will be our priority to unite the opposition,” he said.

While trying to clear the air on the controversy over nominating a joint candidate, he said that the PPP did not enter into any coalition with the other opposition parties when they proposed the name of Aitzaz Ahsan for the upcoming presidential poll. He said the PPP also reached out to PML-N for seeking support for its candidate. “We were even ready to visit Nawaz Sharif in jail,” he said, adding, “We tried meeting Nawaz Sharif … even Shehbaz Sharif asked us to meet him but the meeting could not take place.” He went on to say that the party is trying to convince the PML-N that they should vote for Aitzaz Ahsan.

The presidential election will be held on September 4. Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf has named Arif Alvi as its candidate, while PPP’s candidate is Aitzaz Ahsan.

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