–PPP delegation informs MMA president their party won’t withdraw Aitzaz’s nomination for presidential poll
–MMA chief still hopeful of breakthrough within two days
ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) leadership on Tuesday refused to retract the nomination of Barrister Aitzaz Ahsan as its candidate for the presidential election, pouring cold water on Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) President Maulana Fazlur Rehman’s wish to become the consensus candidate of the joint opposition parties.
In a meeting of the party chaired by Co-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari, the PPP leadership refused to lend support to Fazl as the opposition’s joint candidate, saying they stood by Aitzaz Ahsan’s nomination for the post.
The party later sent a delegation comprising Raja Pervaiz Ashraf, Qamar Zaman Kaira, Farhatullah Babar and Sherry Rehman among others to Fazlur Rehman’s house to inform him about the party’s decision.
Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Fazlur Rehman expressed hope that the issue pertaining to placing opposition’s consensus candidate for the post of president will be resolved in two days.
Zardari reportedly told the participants that his party respects Fazl but they have to make a political decision. It was further said that the PPP would not compromise on principles.
On Monday, Fazlur Rehman had requested the PPP to reconsider placing Aitzaz Ahsan as its candidate for the president and support him [Fazl] instead as opposition’s ‘joint’ candidate.
The meeting on Tuesday reportedly discussed the pros and cons of supporting the MMA chief. The meeting also pondered over the future of the opposition alliance after the president’s election. The PPP leaders noted that the party had its own manifesto and politics and opposition parties could opt for similar stance from issues to issues.
The meeting further decided that the PPP would fully contest by-elections in the country, fielding candidates in every constituency.
BILAWAL REFUSES TO WITHDRAW AHSAN’S NAME:
Sources said that PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari was also steadfast on nominating Aitzaz Ahsan as the party’s candidate.
Reportedly, senior leaders of the party met with Bilawal to discuss Fazlur Rehman’s efforts to obtain PPP’s support for his own candidacy.
“Aitzaz. Aitzaz. Aitzaz,” responded Bilawal, according to sources.
Fazlur Rehman has the support of all major parties part of the opposition alliance including MMA, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), Awami National Party (ANP), Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PKMAP) and National Party. However, the PPP announced to nominate Aitzaz Ahsan for the president.
With the grand opposition alliance failing to reach consensus on a single nominee, Ahsan and Fazlur Rehman have emerged as the two candidates challenging Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) candidate Dr Arif Alvi’s bid for the presidency.
The failure of the opposition parties to field a joint candidate is expected to provide a virtual walkover to Dr Alvi.
Polling for the presidential election will be held on September 4.
The president is elected by an electoral college comprising members of the Senate, National Assembly, and the four provincial assemblies. Voting is held through a secret ballot.