'Zardari not to lead or participate in upcoming Pak elections'



Islamabad: Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari will not lead or participate in the ruling-PPP campaign for the next general election scheduled for early next year, Religious Affairs Minister Khursheed Shah said Wednesday.

Shah, considered a close confidant of the President, made it clear during an interaction with reporters in Islamabad that Zardari would not lead the PPP's election campaign.

Zardari is also the co-chairman of the PPP and plays a key role in guiding the party's activities and the government's policies.

The federal minister commended Zardari for his role as President of Pakistan.

In the past, presidents had harmed democracy while the serving president was the "greatest defender of democracy", Shah said.

None of the Governors would be changed after a caretaker administration is formed to oversee the upcoming election, Shah said.

Last month, Information Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira had said the next general election would be held in May.

He said there was "no chance" of the polls being postponed.

The upcoming polls will mark the first transfer of power from one democratically elected government to another in Pakistan's history.

The Supreme Court recently said in a judgement that the President should be non-partisan and have no political affiliations.

It further ruled that the presidency should not be used for political activities.

The Lahore High Court is currently hearing a petition seeking action against Zardari under the contempt of court law for not acting on an earlier order that said the President was expected to give up his post in the PPP.

Leaders of the PPP have defended the political activities of the President, saying he is a part of parliament and this allowed him to participate in active politics.

At the same time, the PPP is firming up plans to launch the political career of Zardari's son Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, who is the nominal chief of the party.

PPP leaders have indicated that Bilawal will play a key role in the party's election campaign.

However, Bilawal cannot contest polls till he turns 25 in September next year.

Bilawal is expected to make a full-fledged entry into electoral politics from the Bhutto family's traditional stronghold of Larkana in Sindh on his mother Benazir Bhutto's death anniversary on December 27.

PTI