Thu, 25 Apr 2013 02:53:25 GMT

Zardari complaints of vilification campaign by other parties

From Rezaul H Laskar
Islamabad, Apr 24 (PTI) President Asif Ali Zardari today complained to the Election Commission about a vilification campaign launched against him by the PML-N and other political parties, saying the move was aimed at denying a level playing field to the Pakistan People''s Party in the upcoming polls.

A letter sent to the Election Commission by Zardaris spokesman Farhatullah Babar said "a section of the political leadership, particularly that of the PML-N, has been hurling accusations against the President of Pakistan that tend to inevitably drag the President into political controversy".

Noting that Zardari is the husband of slain former premier Benazir Bhutto and the son-in-law of late premier Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, the letter said: "Direct personal criticism of the President during the (election) campaign while the President himself is severely handicapped to respond to them is denying level playing field to the (Pakistan Peoples) Party that is contesting elections using the slogans and images of Shaheed Bhuttos."
The letter contended that despite being attacked by the political parties during the campaign for the May 11 general election, Zardari has been unable to respond to their allegations as he made a commitment to the Lahore High Court that he would not participate in political activities.

The poll panel should take notice of the "vilification campaign" by the leadership of some political parties, particularly the PML-N, against Zardari and its "adverse impact on free and fair elections and the need to urgently redress the issue", the letter said.

Presidential spokesman Babar told reporters: "Some political parties are making (Zaradri) the target of their attacks while the Presidents hands are tied. He is severely handicapped. He can''t respond to these allegations in a political manner because he respects the courts."
PML-N leaders Nawaz Sharif and Shahbaz Sharif and Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf chief Imran Khan are among those who have openly criticised Zardari during the election campaign.

Zardari''s decision to continue as co-chairman of the PPP after becoming the President was challenged in the Lahore High Court, which said the President should be impartial and stay away from any partisan political activity.

Due to pressure from the court, the presidency made a commitment earlier this year that Zardari would not play any active role in politics.

Subsequently, Zardari''s son Bilawal Bhutto Zardari was named the "patron-in-chief" of the PPP. However, it is widely believed that Zardari continues to call the shots within the party.

The letter sent to the Election Commission by Zardaris office said the President was "severely handicapped because out of deference to the (Lahore High Courts) observations he cannot react to these accusations by employing befitting political jargon".

It asked the Chief Election Commissioner to look into the matter and "issue directions to the political parties, particularly the PML-N leadership, to desist from partisan political attacks against" the President.

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