Islamabad : Former prime minister Benazir Bhutto’s attempt to return to power for the third time following parliamentary elections will not be blocked, a media report Monday said.
“Knowledgeable sources say that the establishment’s decision has been conveyed to the PPP chairperson, along with the assurance that the elections will be free and fair,” Dawn said.
The bar on prime ministers serving a third term can be lifted through a majority vote in the bicameral legislature if President Pervez Musharraf consents to this.
The PPP believes it will be able to form governments at the centre and in Sindh and Punjab if fair and open elections are held.
The ruling Pakistan Muslim League (PML) disputes the claim but is willing to form a coalition with the PPP in case neither party wins a decisive majority in the elections due in January.
“Notwithstanding its public statements to the contrary, the PML admits that the PPP will be able to form a coalition in Sindh if the MQM (Muttahida Quami Movement) joins hands with it,” Dawn said.
The MQM, which rules Sindh, is currently aligned with the PML and both parties have declared they would contest the election together.
Musharraf recently told the PML leadership that he would prefer the next prime minister to be from the party. He also indicated that he would support the party in the election.
“However, party sources say that after taking oath for another term as president, Musharraf would not give much importance to whether the new prime minister was from the PML or the PPP.
“They say the president will be willing to work with anyone mandated by the electorate,” the newspaper said.
Quoting highly placed sources, it said that Musharraf “did not want to give an impression that he would go out of the way to pave the way for any party to bring it to power.
“It was for this reason that Bhutto was disallowed from hosting a dinner for foreign diplomats at Parliament House in Islamabad during the next few weeks,” Dawn added.
The PPP leader had chosen the venue reportedly for security reasons, but the authorities turned down the request, saying a dinner at the Parliament House at this stage would give an impression that Bhutto had already returned to power.