Elections will be held when I decide’: Zardari

F.P. Report
LAHORE: Former president and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Co-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari, making a bold statement, declared that the upcoming elections would be held at his ‘discretion’.
He said this during his address to the PPP ticket holders at Bilawal House in Lahore. Speaking at the PPP ticket holders’ gathering, the former President urged patience from party workers, assuring them that elections would be conducted under his leadership.
“They (PTI) failed to hold elections within two-month,” he said. During his address, Zardari criticized those lacking a comprehensive understanding of politics, emphasizing that every problem has a “political solution”. Zardari further dismissed the notion that the army’s involvement in politics poses a significant expense, suggesting that such claims were propagated to impede progress.
The politician, during his speech, also outlined his ambition to revitalize the economy, highlighting plans to increase foreign exchange reserves from the current $24 billion to an impressive $100 billion. He also expressed confidence in his ability to manage the economy effectively, mentioning his extensive study of economics during his 14-year imprisonment, adding that he learnt about other societies and studied comparative history.
Meanwhile, PPP co-chairperson Asif Ali Zardari, a key ally in the ruling coalitions at the Centre, renewed on Wednesday the call for a “charter of economy”, and stressed the need for collective efforts to improve the country’s economic situation.
In the recent past, the idea of a charter of economy was floated by the incumbent dispensation in Islamabad, notably Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, before the last year’s budget and not too long after its ascension to power following the ouster of former premier Imran Khan through a no-confidence vote in April. The idea focuses on all stakeholders collaborating on formulating a framework for improving the economy.
Zardari again highlighted its need today during a speech at that Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry, where various issues pertaining to the economy came under discussion. Stressing the need for the country to reach “double-digit exports”, he said Pakistan had all the resources to achieve this without assistance from foreign investors. “We can do it among ourselves. “The big businessmen of Punjab should come together, choose industries and make groups. You form them and [invest] from your own pocket. We will guarantee them, we will guarantee those loans, we will guarantee your investment.”
He further said, “An economy is not for five or 10 or 15 years. It is for our children. It is [for] the generation to come.” Zardari also highlighted the importance of entering public-private partnerships, saying, “Countries, politicians — we make policies. We don’t run the countries or businesses, that’s for you to do.” He further asserted “everything” was made by the private sector and not public sector elsewhere in the world.
Here, he recalled that he had also told the PTI chief in Parliament in the past to “sit down and — do whatever [tyranny] you can do with us. I am used to being in Lahore in the jail rather than at home … But that’s not important because individuals don’t matter. “But sit down on a charter of economy with us. Let’s talk to each other. Because you are also going to one day pass away and I am also going to one day pass away … But let’s sit down and think beyond. And not for [just] five years, 10 years or 15 years.” Concluding his address, he said, “We have to think collectively. Business people have to think collectively.