‘Inexperienced’ Bilawal’s father Zardari sees coalition govt in 2024

In startling revelations, former president says “minus- Zardari” PPP offered six ministries to join PTI govt

Former president Asif Ali Zardari believes that no party alone would be able to form the next government after the general elections in 2024, terming his son, Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, “inexperienced”.

Bilawal has been campaigning across the country and touting his party as the solution to Pakistan’s ills, while also asking “old politicians” to sit back and allow the new generation to lead from the front in the elections slated to take place on February 8 next year.

Major political parties have started their campaign — either through political campaigns or by bringing in politicos to their ranks — and the PPP seems to be at the forefront right now as it is holding rallies in several cities with Bilawal leading them — and asking people to choose him.

But Zardari, during an exclusive interview with Hamid Mir on Geo News’ programme “Capital Talk”, said no party would be able to secure a majority of 172 seats in the National Assembly, and alliances would be forged undoubtedly.

“What’s a chessboard? On this chessboard [the National Assembly], no one can secure 172 seats alone.”

With Bilawal launching scathing attacks on the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), the PPP’s former allies in the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM)-led government in the Centre, the Nawaz Sharif-led party has decided not to hit back at the PPP.

Zardari said he supports the PML-N’s stance to ensure a conducive environment as it is better that everyone respects each other so things can move forward smoothly — as there is a possibility that alliances would be formed in the future.

Bilawal ‘inexperienced’

PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, in his election rallies, has asked old politicians (or babay) to sit home, claiming the way they conduct business had harmed the nation.

But Zardari told Mir that Bilawal is “inexperienced” and that it would take some time for him to gain that experience. “Bilawal is much more talented than I am, but he isn’t experienced.”

Bilawal is calling everyone “babay” (old politicians), not just me. The PPP stalwart said the new generation in every house says, “Dad, you don’t know anything”.

The former president said the new generation has its own mindset and the right to express itself, noting that if he tries to intervene in their affairs, it would just lead to more mess.

“If Bilawal says, ‘You do politics, I won’t’, then what can I do? People learn over time in politics. I have made several mistakes myself.”

Zardari also mentioned that if they were in business, then Bilawal’s narrative would have been the same, “You [Zardari] don’t know anything. It’s the same in politics,” he mentioned.

Bilawal, during his rallies, has also mentioned that old politicians took revenge on their rivals when they came into power, specifically targeting the PML-N.

Zardari said during his tenures, there was no political prisoner as he had never resorted to revenge politics. “Every now and then, new allegations were levelled against me, but I never responded to them.”

“We saved the ‘sword’ from rotten eggs, but they tried to steal the ‘sword’,” he said, talking about the party’s sword logo.

Speaking about the different mindsets of the top PPP leaders, Zardari stated that there are two parties — PPP and Pakistan Peoples Party Parliamentarians (PPPP).

Zardari said he is the president of the PPPP, which is authorised to allocate election tickets, while his son Bilawal is chairman of the PPP. “I allocate tickets,” he said, noting that he also has the authority to issue tickets for Bilawal in the next polls.

With elections also nearing, Zardari said his party is actively running its poll campaign because it is certain that the general elections would take place on February 8 next year.

The ‘PDM experience’

Since Zardari has ruled out the formation of a single-party government, the host him what’s the assurance that his experience with the PDM would be better this time as it wasn’t ideal during their 16-month stint — after the ouster of Imran Khan’s government.

In response, the ex-president — with a smile on his face — said it isn’t necessary that Nawaz — whose party is saying that he will become the prime minister for the fourth time — is in the leading position.

“There will be other parties and individuals.”

Speaking about the PDM-led coalition government, Zardari said he was “impressed” with former prime minister and PML-N Shehbaz Sharif, adding that the experience of the unity government was “very difficult”.

“I was impressed with Shehbaz Sharif who would wake up early in the morning at 6pm and start working at 8am,” the PPP leader remarked.

However, the PPP leader said former PM Shehbaz did not accept his several proposals due to which the country suffered losses. He said he did not want to pressurise the former PM as the PML-N had more seats in parliament than his party.

‘Minus-Zardari PPP’

In a fresh revelation against the former ruling party, Zardari has insisted that the Imran Khan-led Pakistan Tehree-e-Insaf (PTI) had offered his party six ministries to join its government in the Centre.

The former president said he was told to leave the country as the Imran-led government wanted to form an alliance with a “minus-Zardari” PPP. “[The PPP] was offered six ministries in return for contesting elections with the PTI,” the PPP stalwart said.

Speaking about the ouster of the PTI-led regime in April 2022, Zardari said removing Imran from power via a no-confidence motion was the correct decision.

“Pakistan was isolated in the world due to Imran Khan,” he said while accusing the PTI government of destroying the country’s economy and bilateral relations.

The PPP leader further said that Imran was planning to hold “RO elections” (a reference to the 2013 “rigged” elections) with the help of a military officer to remain in power till 2028.

“A truck full of money would be required to buy even one litre of milk,” he said while referring to the worst economic crisis, which he believed would follow had Imran succeeded in his plan to remain in power for a longer period.

Zardari’s revelations lend credence to the audio leak that emerged last year, wherein a property tycoon delivered the then-prime minister’s message to Zardari.

In the purported leaked audio conversation, the property tycoon had sought the PPP’s support for the PTI-led government to foil the no-trust motion against the then-prime minister Imran.

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