Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) co-chairman and former president Asif Ali Zardari ruled out Wednesday the holding of general elections before key electoral reforms. He said necessary changes in the accountability laws were mandatory and had to be done by the incumbent coalition government.
Addressing a press conference at the Chief Minister Sindh House, Zardari said the ruling coalition was capable of steering the country out of the current financial crisis, stressing that he had “out-of-box solutions” to improve the national economy.
“A demand for election is being made in the country but elections cannot be held without introducing electoral reforms and ensuring necessary changes in the National Accountability Bureau laws,” Zardari told reporters.
“We have to bring forth electoral reforms and changes in the NAB laws before going to general elections,” he said. “But yes, parliament is supreme. It has the authority to decide when to go for an election,” Zardari added. “Being a democratic and a political party, we aren’t afraid of going to elections.”
When asked about Khawaja Asif’s statement about early elections, the former president said that it could be his personal opinion. “I have pondered the matter with Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Quaid Nawaz Sharif and we have all agreed to call election after the said reforms are made,” he said.
When asked about electoral reforms, specifically the grant of voting rights to overseas Pakistanis, Zardari suggested parliament could ensure reserved seats for the Pakistani expatriates.
“The overseas Pakistanis don’t have an idea of the ground realities in the country. We have to steer Pakistan out of the quagmire in which Imran Khan has stuck it up,” he said. “Yes, parliament, with its wisdom, can reserve seats for overseas Pakistanis in the national and provincial assemblies.”
Zardari said NAB laws were another issue that needed to be checked before elections so that the country’s premier graft buster is not used for the victimization of political opponents.