Former president and Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari on Wednesday ruled out early elections before electoral and National Accountability Bureau (NAB) reforms.

“I talked to Nawaz Sharif last night and tried to explain it to him [about the situation]… it is our joint decision that we will not go for polls until electoral reforms are done… I respect Khawaja Asif’s remarks but elections will only take place after reforms,” he said while addressing a press conference in Karachi.

The former president said that his party was not afraid of elections but nothing will be achieved if they are carried out prematurely. “I had been saying this from very beginning to go for elections but I was not listened to… what we will achieve now by holding the elections,” he questioned.

He said that reforms in NAB laws would also be carried out so that “it cannot be used for wrong reasons”. “We will depute non-political officers in NAB.”

Saying that overseas Pakistanis do not know about on ground realities here, he maintained that the current regime could give them a few designated seats in the National Assembly.

Lashing out at Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan for his “anti-state” remarks, Zardari questioned what the ex-premier wanted to achieve with early elections.

“If army is acting neutral then you (Imran Khan) should solute the army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa or should you start a fight with him? Who is to give labels like Mir Jaffar and Mir Sadiq to people,” he added.

The PPP co-chairman also said that the current situation has proved that institutions can remain neutral. “Let the institutions work. In fact, you should help them,” he advised the PTI chief.

Former president said that bureaucracy and the country were destroyed during the tenure of the PTI government, adding that those who are earning even Rs50,000 per month are living a life of hardship.

“We have to solve the problems ourselves… we can benefit by doing trade with the neighbouring country. Shehbaz Sharif enjoys a great relationship with Saudi Arabia. I want to sit with the traders and want to discuss the way forward,” he added.

To a question about the alleged US conspiracy to topple the PTI-led government, as claimed by Imran Khan, Zardari said that he has not read the “threat letter”. “US ambassadors do not use such language… the letter is prepared by PTI itself. Biden is my friend… If this was true then he would’ve called me,” he added.

The former president further said that Dr Arif Alvi is a dentist by profession and he doesn’t know about politics. “We will deal with him. In democracy, sometimes you win and sometimes you lose but we’re not afraid of anything,” he further said.

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