PPP wins Multan bypoll; claims people support against SC order
Lahore: The Pakistan People's Party has sought to portray the victory of its candidate in a bypoll in Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani's hometown of Multan as a reaction by the people against his conviction for contempt by the Supreme Court.
The PPP's top leadership, including President Asif Ali Zardari, has praised Gilani for not deviating from his principled stance and congratulated him for getting the endorsement of the people, who the leaders said had voted for the premier's candidate in Multan yesterday.
"The people have rejected the Supreme Court's verdict against Gilani. The judges should see it and respect the Constitution," said a PPP leader who did not want to be named.
Gilani had gained politically from the court's verdict, the leader contended.
Hours after the Supreme Court convicted Gilani and gave him a symbolic sentence of less than a minute for not complying with its orders to reopen graft cases against Zardari in Switzerland, PPP candidate Usman Bhatti won the bypoll to a Punjab Assembly seat in Multan by defeating Moeenuddin Riaz Qureshi of the opposition PML-N.
Gilani and the government had refused to act on the court's orders to revive the graft cases against Zardari, saying the President had complete immunity in Pakistan and abroad.
The PPP described the victory in the bypoll in Multan a verdict of the people in the face of the Supreme Court's decision against Gilani.
"The people of Multan have expressed solidarity with the Prime Minister by electing the PPP candidate," said Haider Zaman Qureshi, the PPP's senior vice-president in south Punjab.
Qureshi said: "This is the people's verdict that shows that they cannot be fooled by propaganda".
He claimed the people of Multan had rejected Moeenuddin Riaz Qureshi, a "four-time turncoat" whom the PML-N had taken into its fold as it considered him a candidate with good potential.
"It is a great victory for the PPP which has proved that it is the popular party of the masses," Qureshi said.
Another PPP leader, Navid Chaudhry, said the people of Multan had elected the PPP candidate to send out a message that they knew the PPP's leadership is being victimised.
He said Zardari was illegally detained for 11 years but no charges were established against him.
"Now politics is being played again on the issue of the money laundering cases in Switzerland but the elements behind this will not succeed," Chaudhry said.