Achakzai 'not a nationalist' if he's PTI's presidential candidate: Bilawal

Web Desk
March 02, 2024

PML-N's Khawaja Asif says PTI changed its "brand" by nominating Achakzai as its presidential candidate


Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari on Saturday said that Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI)-backed Sunni Ittehad Council's (SIC) candidate for the presidential candidate, Mahmood Khan Achakzai, cannot call himself a nationalist if he is representing the former ruling party.

Achakzai, the chief of Pashtun­khwa Milli Awami Party (PKMAP), has been nominated as the presidential candidate against PPP Co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari, who is a joint candidate of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and other political parties part of the coalition set to form a government in the Centre.

Achakzai won the National Assembly seat from the NA-266 constituency in Balochistan's Kila Abdullah-cum-Chaman, and has the backing of the incarcerated PTI founder Imran Khan, who has urged his party’s lawmakers to vote for the veteran politician.

According to a notification issued by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Friday, the presidential election is set to take place on March 9, with Zardari as the strongest candidate, having the support of several parties in the parliament.

Speaking to journalists in Quetta, Bilawal said that he has great respect and regard for Achakzai but he "cannot call himself a nationalist if he is going to be a representative of PTI".

He said that the SIC has the right to nominate anyone as their candidate for the presidential slot.

The PPP chairman, however, claimed that his father, "Asif Zardari will become the country's president".

As his party has formed the government in Balochistan with the election of Sarfaraz Bugti as the chief minister, Bilawal stressed "reconciliation" with representatives outside the assemblies and other stakeholders in the conduct of provincial affairs.

He said that Bugti would be a strong chief minister compared to the PPP's stint in Balochistan after the 2008 elections.

"Issues in Sindh and Balochistan are similar. Our complaints are to the Centre," the young politician said, pledging to take Quetta's voice to Islamabad.

He also pledged to confront the terrorists and extremists in the province and resolve the issue of Baloch missing persons through the parliamentary committee.

Separately, PML-N leader Khawaja Asif said while speaking to media outside Parliament House, that PTI changed its "brand" by nominating Achakzai as its presidential candidate.

He said that when the brand is changed, the leader should also be changed.

"[PTI] was calling others a lota [turncoat] but now it is sitting with a gathering of lotas," he added.

Presidential election

According to the ECP's schedule, the nomination papers for the presidential election can be submitted by noon today (Saturday), while the scrutiny of nomination papers will be completed by March 4.

Candidates who wish to withdraw their nomination papers can do so by March 5. Whereas, the final list of candidates will be published on March 6 after which the polling will take place.

At least five candidates have submitted their nomination papers for the presidential election.

Zardari's nomination papers were submitted by PPP leader Farooq H Naek, while PTI-backed SIC leader Latif Khosa submitted Achakzai’s papers.

Meanwhile, Advocate Asghar Ali Mubarak, an independent candidate Waheed Kamal, and a citizen Abdul Quddus also submitted their nomination papers to run for the presidential polls.


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