Next Pakistan polls to be free and fair: Zardari

Next Pakistan polls to be free and fair: Zardari

President Asif Ali Zardari has squelched speculation about a possible delay in Pakistan's general election, saying the polls will be held on time and in a fair, free and impartial manner.

"I want to make a promise to the people that the next election will be held on time and will be fair, free and impartial," Zardari told a meeting of workers of his Pakistan People's Party at Khairpur in Sindh province yesterday.

Without naming the judiciary, Zardari took a swipe at the Supreme Court for disqualifying former premier Yousuf Raza Gilani for refusing to reopen graft cases against him.

"They snatched our Prime Minister, Yousuf Raza Gilani, but we gave them another PPP jiyala (supporter) as a gift," he said. The PPP believes in democracy and has never used the backdoor to come to power, he said.

In future too, it will depend on the strength of the people and come to power with their mandate, he contended. The next premier and Chief Ministers of the four provinces will all be from the PPP, he claimed. Zardari travelled to the remote part of Sindh to meet party workers.

The PPP has a strong bond with people, who have always supported it in elections, and this strong link will help the party win a majority in the next polls, he said. Following widespread allegations of corruption and a standoff between the government and the judiciary, there has been speculation that the PPP-led ruling coalition might be forced to advance the general elections.

The polls are scheduled for March-April next year. Rejecting allegations levelled against the government, Zardari said there had been conspiracies against the PPP-led coalition but it had faced them with courage and the support of the people.

The government is being targeted through "TV politics" because there were elements who criticised the administration on TV talk shows without any justification, he said.
"We are satisfied with our performance and confident of getting the people's support," he said.

"The country is now self-sufficient in food and exporting wheat, although it was importing wheat when the PPP came to power four-and-half years ago," he said. Zardari said he was aware of the people's problems like shortages of water, electricity and jobs, but the government had taken several steps which would help solve these problems in the near future.

Commenting on the political situation in Punjab that is ruled by the opposition PML-N, the President said, with the support of the people, the next Chief Minister of the province would be from the PPP.

Zardari announced he would visit different cities of Punjab for better interaction with PPP workers, to listen to their problems and to enhance coordination with them.

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