Asif Ali Zardari to run for president as PPP seeks coalition with PML-N

Asif Ali Zardari

ISLAMABAD: In a bid to end the political deadlock after the inconclusive general elections, the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) has announced that it’s co-chairperson and former president Asif Ali Zardari will be its presidential candidate. The presidential election is due to be held by March 9, 2024, as the incumbent President Dr. Arif Alvi is set to complete his term.

The PPP leader and son of Zardari, Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, announced at a public rally in Thatta district of Sindh province on Sunday. He said that his party had chosen Zardari to “control the fire of discontent spreading in the country” and to “save the Center and the provinces” from the crisis. He claimed that Zardari, who served as the president from 2008 to 2013, has the experience and the vision to lead the country out of the turmoil.

Bilawal also said that he has instructed his party to negotiate with other parties that have offered their support to the PPP, but without demanding any ministries in return. He said that the PPP is ready to work with the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), the second-largest party in the National Assembly, to form a coalition government. The PML-N is led by four-time Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who is currently in exile in London after being convicted of corruption charges.

Asif Ali Zardari

The February 8 elections resulted in a hung parliament, with no party securing a clear majority. The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), the party of former Prime Minister Imran Khan who is in jail for contempt of court, emerged as the largest party with 93 seats, mostly won by independent candidates backed by the PTI. The PML-N won 75 seats, while the PPP came third with 54 seats. The Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P), a regional party based in Karachi, won 17 seats and has agreed to join the PPP-PML-N alliance. To form the government, a party or a coalition needs at least 133 seats out of the 265 directly elected seats in the 266-member National Assembly.