ISLAMABAD - Pakistan People’s Party supremo Asif Ali Zardari is weighing in to change the country’s destiny amid the political and economic crisis. The former President is hoping to return to power after the general elections with an aim to drag the country out of turmoil. The PPP Co-Chairman has already been described by his party as the “Nelson Mandela of Pakistan.” The comparison to Nelson Mandela, the renowned South African anti-apartheid leader and Nobel laureate, is linked to Zardari’s tenure as the 11th President of Pakistan in which he played a significant role in advancing democracy and strengthening the parliament.
The PPP supporters have erected a billboard in Lahore where he is called “Pakistan’s Nelson Mandela.”
The former President has claimed he will take Pakistan’s foreign exchange reserves to $100 billion as he had read several books on economy. “When I take charge of the economy, I will take the foreign exchange reserves to $100 billion,” Zardari was quoted as telling his party leaders last day at a meeting. In a bid to materialise his economic plan, Zardari has also extended his stay in Lahore till June 12 as political leaders continued to join the PPP. It is expected that more leaders from Punjab will join the party.
According to the latest data issued by the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), the foreign currency reserves held by the central were recorded at $4.091 billion on May 26 while overall liquid foreign currency reserves held by the country, including net reserves held by banks other than the SBP, currently stand at $9.513 billion. Pakistan’s overall liquid foreign currency reserves have never crossed the $30 billion mark.
Yesterday, Zardari invited all the stakeholders to sit together for the “charter of economy.” He said if they stakeholders wanted an economic revival, they will find PPP standing beside them and vice versa.
“I am not asking for donations but your will, thought process and energy to be able to implement for what I think the world of tomorrow will be,” former president said. He stressed that common people were already under the burden, adding that tax rates should be slashed. “Economy is not for five years, it’s for the coming generations,” he added. To “revive the economy” however, Zardari will first have to win the elections and form a government. This does not look easy as the political pundits predict a hung parliament.
Zardari will need to do reasonably well in Punjab to be in a position to lead the federal government along with the possible partners. The last two general elections have been disappointing for the PPP in Punjab. This time Zardari is optimistic to perform better. He told his supporters yesterday that the PPP will “win in South Punjab.” A better performance in Punjab will give the PPP an edge as it is expected to clinch majority seats in Sindh. A few seats from Khyber Pakhtunkhaw and Balochistan will be handy.