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Pakistan presidential poll heats up
Rezaul H Laskar in Islamabad |
August 30, 2008 15:53 IST
With the Pakistan People's Party's efforts to strike a deal with the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz not bearing fruit, candidates of the three main parties, including Asif Ali Zardari, on Saturday remained in the fray for the September 6 presidential poll in Pakistan.
PPP chief Zardari, PML-N nominee Saeed-uz Zaman Siddiqui and Pakistan Muslim League-Qaid's Mushahid Hussain Sayed will be the three candidates contesting the elections following the withdrawal of nomination papers by the covering candidates.
End of Road for Musharraf
Earlier, Zardari's peace overtures were rebuffed by PML-N leader Nawaz Sharif, who was requested by the ruling PPP chief to withdraw his candidate from the polls.
Faryal Talpur, Zardari's sister who was his covering candidate, said, "I have withdrawn my papers in line with the party's decision that Asif Ali Zardari will contest as the presidential candidate."
Zardari asks Sharif to rejoin government
She claimed Zardari, the co-chairman of the ruling PPP, is in a strong position and will win the election. "We have comfortable numbers to win the presidential election."
PML-N's covering candidate Roedad Khan also pulled out of the race on the last day of the withdrawal of nomination papers today.
Senior PML-N leader Ahsan Iqbal, meanwhile, accused the Pakistan People's Party of launching a 'character assassination' campaign against Siddiqui, a former Chief Justice.
Zardari is PPP's Presidential candidate
Iqbal pointed out that the PPP had launched a campaign against Siddiqui even though he was often invited to that party's seminars and functions in the past.
"But now all of a sudden, now that Siddiqui has been put up as a candidate, they are launching a character assassination campaign against him, which I think is very undemocratic," Iqbal told reporters.
"If we were to launch a similar campaign, we could do it on a much larger scale but we have shown restraint because we don't want to go back to the politics of the 1980s and 1990s," Iqbal said, adding that the PML-N had reservations about Zardari's candidature "because he happens to be the co-chairman of the PPP".
Pakistan presidential polls on September 6
"Either Zardari must tell the nation that he will resign from the basic membership of the party if he is elected as President or then the presidency will be seen as the PPP's presidency rather than being seen as representing the unity of the federation," he said.
The PML-N, he said, had decided to field a non-partisan candidate, Siddiqui, because he could bring back the dignity of the office of President. "The office of the President became very controversial during (former President Pervez) Musharraf's tenure as he was acting as de facto head of the PML-Q," he said.
Pakistan ruling coalition claims victory as Musharraf bows out
However, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani [Images], who belongs to the PPP, said the Premier and the President should be from the same party.
Campaigning for Zardari in Karachi, he said the PPP chief could strengthen the federation as he was the leader of a party that has strong roots in all the provinces.
"His roots are in the four provinces of Pakistan. The President should be a person who has his roots all across the country; he should be a person, who works for the federation, country and constitution," Gilani said.
The PML-N, which quit the ruling coalition on Monday after accusing Zardari of reneging on several agreements to reinstate dozens of judges deposed by Musharraf, has been insisting the new President should be a non-partisan man.
Musharraf resigned on August 18 to avoid impeachment, thus necessitating the holding of presidential polls.