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Pakistan: 'Fool me once, shame on you...', says Bilawal Bhutto on rejoining Nawaz Sharif's party

Bilawal's Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and Nawaz Sharif's Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) were major partners of the Pakistan Democratic Movement's 16-month government. However, the PPP chairman has slammed PML-N for rising inflation and economic mismanagement.

Edited By: Aveek Banerjee @AveekABanerjee Islamabad Published on: January 20, 2024 15:22 IST
Pakistan, Bilawal Bhutto, Nawaz Sharif
Image Source : PTI Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari

Islamabad: Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari on Friday flatly refused to form a coalition government with Nawaz Sharif's Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) after the general elections scheduled on February 8, Geo News reported. Although they were partners in the Pakistan Democratic Movement's (PDM) 16-month government, the PPP has blamed the PML-N for skyrocketing inflation and economic mismanagement in the country.

Responding to a question as to whether the PPP would join the PML-N to come back to power in case the latter falls short of securing a majority in the National Assembly from the Punjab province, Bilawal said, "Who told you that the PPP will form a coalition government with them (PML-N)? I have stated this before as well: ‘Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me'.”

“If they were banking on the [PPP] to form their government, then it will be tough for them,” he added, asserting that the PML-N is not in a good position and people from across the country are against Nawaz becoming the Prime Minister for the fourth time. He said his party would bring independent candidates into their fold to form the government.

The PPP chief blamed the PML-N for not following up on the commitments made with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which put the country in a financial crunch. “Their decision hurt the economy,” he said, terming the PML-N leaders’ narrative of “sacrificing politics for saving the state” a “joke”.

Talking about former PM Imran Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) losing the electoral symbol, Bilawal said he was not in favour of any party's symbol being taken away, but the law stipulated that a political party should hold internal elections. “Party workers had to bear this loss because of PTI's legal team,” he added, alleging that PTI lawyers came to the Supreme Court unprepared.

Pakistan's general elections

The general elections in Pakistan are scheduled for February 8, where a hotly-contested battle between Nawaz Sharif and Imran Khan was expected. While the PML-N remains confident that Nawaz will return as PM, many polls earlier showed that Imran and his PTI enjoy widespread popularity.

However, Pakistan's election commission has warned that the general elections may have to be delayed if the process of changing electoral symbols does not stop, asserting that it could not keep making alterations with the February 8 polls just around the corner. 

Pakistan's caretaker PM Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar has constituted a seven-member committee mandated with ensuring the smooth conduct of the February 8 general elections already impaired by allegations of "pre-poll rigging", Dawn reported. Interim Minister for Communications, Railways, and Maritime Affairs Shahid Ashraf Tarar has been named as the head of the committee.

Pakistan's incarcerated former Prime Minister Imran Khan suffered another major blow to his hopes of contesting upcoming elections after the Lahore High Court (LHC) turned down his petitions seeking to challenge the rejection of his nomination papers from the constituencies of NA-122 (Lahore) and NA-89 (Mianwali). His nomination papers had been rejected primarily on the grounds of being convicted in the Toshakhana corruption case, where he was sentenced to three years of imprisonment.

ALSO READ | Pakistan: Imran Khan nearly out of electoral race after Lahore HC rejects plea



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