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PPP in contact with all opp parties to bring their candidate

05 March, 2018

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KARACHI/ISLAMABAD: Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari on Sunday said that his party was in contact with all the opposition parties to bring a candidate for the top slot in the Upper House of parliament.

“We will try to get elected our chairman in Senate with the support of other opposition parties,” he said while addressing a press conference in Karachi. “However, no contacts have yet been made with the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) in this regard,” he clarified.

The PPP chief said the winning candidates in the Senate election the PML-N has claimed to be theirs are actually independents. “Hence, PPP has the largest representation in the Senate,” he said, adding the PML-N should bring its chairman if it had majority in the Upper House.

Rejecting the reports of massive horse-trading in Saturday’s election, especially in Sindh, the PPP chairman said the overall electoral process was free and fair in the province. The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has also declared the Sindh Assembly’s election as the most transparent, he said. “These are mere allegations on PPP. They are trying to cover up their own weaknesses by hurling allegations of horse-trading on PPP,” he responded, when asked if his party took advantage of infighting within the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) and ‘bought’ some of its MPAs.

The PPP chief said the MQM-P was ‘finished’ after Saturday’s polls. “When the MQM-P announced a day earlier that they stand united, then how the PPP can be blamed for buying their lawmakers … instead of pointing fingers at others, they should address their own problems first,” he suggested.

Ruling out reports of his party being behind the conspiracy to oust the previous Balochistan government, Bilawal said the PPP and its leadership was used to listening to such criticism against it in the past. “Balochistan senators have decided to remain independent and we will also talk to them to support us in election for the Senate chairman,” he added.

Responding to the allegations hurled by Imran Khan, Bilawal urged the PTI chairman to bring ideological candidates for the elections rather than ‘ATMs’, in an apparent reference to Jahangir Tareen. “If you don’t vote yourself, how can you blame others for not voting for you?” he remarked, taking a jibe at Khan who did not turn up to cast his vote in Saturday’s Senate election.

Bilawal said the PPP was the only party focusing on tackling issues being faced by the masses. He vowed to perform even better and try to meet people’s expectations if elected to power in the upcoming general elections.

Later, the PPP chief extended congratulations to the newly elected senators from Sindh at a meeting held at the Bilawal House. The meeting was attended by Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah, Outgoing Senate Chairman Raza Rabbani, senators-elect Maula Bux Chandio, Dr Sikandar Mandharo, Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar, Mohammad Ali Shah Jamote, Imamuddin Shauqeen, Rukhsana Zubairi, Krishna Kolhi, Qurratul Ain Marri and Anwar Lal Deen.

Separately, talking to a group of women activists of the PPP hailing from different tribal agencies who called on him at the Zardari House in Islamabad, Bilawal Bhutto said that delay in extending the jurisdiction of superior courts to the tribal areas amounted to denying the people of the area their fundamental rights. “Any further delay in this regards is criminal and not acceptable,” he stressed.

The PPP chairman said that the bill recently passed by the National Assembly and sent to the Senate contained some serious anomalies which needed to be rectified in the Upper House. The jurisdiction of the Peshawar High Court and the Supreme Court must be extended to the tribal areas in one go, not in parts and without requiring any notification by the bureaucracy, he opined.

Bilawal said that initially the superior courts did not have jurisdiction even over the provincially administered tribal areas (PATA) in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. However, in 1973 this jurisdiction was extended though an act of parliament without requiring any government notification. The people of tribal areas have waited for 70 long years to get access to justice and fundamental rights and must not be kept deprived any longer on various pretexts, he said.

The PPP chief rejected the objections of some political parties against extending the jurisdiction of superior courts to FATA. Article 175(2) and 247(7) provided that legislation could be made by parliament for extending jurisdiction of superior courts to tribal areas, he said.

He said the PPP had extended the political parties order to FATA opening doors for all political parties to engage people in alternate political narratives. “We also opened the door for reforms in the draconian Frontier Crimes Regulations (FCR) and it was now time to undo the FCR and extend regular laws of Pakistan to the tribal areas. If coercive laws are extended to the tribal areas through a presidential ordinance, why can’t the progressive laws be extended to these areas to protect the fundamental rights of its people,” he asked.

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