LAHORE

President Asif Ali Zardari on Monday told a gathering of party ticket holders at Bilawal House that the mandate Nawaz Sharif got in the May 11 elections was not genuine at all.

 “Nawaz Sharif has never got a genuine mandate. It has always been a fake one given to him by certain forces to keep the PPP out of power,” a party source quoted the president sharing this with the party stalwarts.

It was Zardari’s first interaction with party men after the elections during which he acted as ‘apolitical president’ by keeping him away from party’s election campaign. 

In his speech, Zardari also pointed finger at the national and international establishments which, according to him, played a role to keep the PPP out of power. 

Two former prime ministers, Syed YusufRaza Gilani and Raja Pervaiz Ashraf were part of the gathering besides other leaders. Prominent among them were Aitzaz Ahsan, Raza Rabbani, Latif Khosa, Manzoor Wattoo, Makhdum Shahabuddin, Ch Ahmad Mukhtar and Nazar Muhammad Gondal.

While admitting inner weaknesses of the PPP, the president also blamed the Returning Officers appointed by the Election Commission for their covert support to the PML-N candidates. “They delayed the results to manoeuvre the final count,” he observed. 

The party ticket holders, on the other hand, laid the entire responsibility for the PPP fiasco on the shoulders of two former prime ministers and the loadshedding of electricity. “It was the wrong policies and decisions of the PPP prime ministers which incited peoples’ ire against the PPP,” a loser of the May 11 elections told the president. Many shared the view that shortage of electricity and gas paved the way for PPP’s exit.”

President Zardari, however, would not agree with their views. “If it is taken as true, why the people in Sindh did not take into account these factors,” he questioned.

Some ticket holders also held PPP’s media team responsible for the poor results. They said that media managers failed to highlight good work of the PPP in the media. 

A number of party men, as per sources, emphasised the need for making radical changes in the party structure. They also divulged that no one extended any protocol to the ex-prime ministers at the gathering and also made them subject of criticism. 

The president said he had not yet congratulated Mian Nawaz Sharif for his party’s apparent victory in the elections. “I was waiting for an opportunity to meet you first and then to congratulate Mian sahib,” he remarked.  Later,  Zardari telephoned Nawaz Sharif and congratulated him over his party’s victory in the elections.

Zardari conceded that there had been a communication gap between him and the party men in the past for which he held his team responsible. “After three months or so, when I am not the president, we would be meeting quite frequently,” he said, also assuring the party men that he would stay in Pakistan after completion of his term as president.

In the end, the president announced formation of a committee headed by senior party leader Aitzaz Ahsan to compile a comprehensive report on PPP’s failure in the elections. Some party men said Raza Rabbani, Manzoor Wattoo and Makhdum Shahbuddin may be taken as members in it.