PPP’s Zardari stakes claim to form government

February 19th, 2008 - 10:47 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Benazir Bhutto
By Devirupa Mitra
Islamabad, Feb 19 (IANS) Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) leader Asif Ali Zardari Tuesday staked his party’s claim to form a government after it won the highest number of seats in the National Assembly. “We have staked the claim on behalf of the PPP along with friends,” he told reporters.

He, however, did not clarify who would be the prime ministerial candidate for the party. He said that would be decided “after talks” with supporting parties.

Slain former prime minister Benazir Bhutto’s party secured 86 seats in the 272-member National Assembly in Monday’s elections, though it fell 51 seats short of majority.

Bhutto’s husband Zardari also spoke by telephone with former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, whose Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) with 65 seats was placed second in the tally. The two leaders are expected to meet Wednesday in talks over power-sharing.

Asked about President Pervez Musharraf’s future, Zardari avoided a direct reply but said: “We are going to come to power to strengthen parliament and not to strengthen a dictator.”

He also laid out several conditions for possible alliance partners, including a UN inquiry into Bhutto’s Dec 27 assassination and restoration of the 1973 constitution as well as power of the judiciary and parliament.

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