Lahore: Faced with a challenge from the assertive judiciary, President Asif Ali Zardari has quit the political office of co-chairman of the Pakistan People's Party and made his son Bilawal its "patron-in-chief". (Agencies)
"President Zardari is no more the co-chairman of the PPP. The main body of the PPP has been dissolved and his son, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, has been elected the party's patron-in-chief," a close aide to 57-year-old Zardari said.
Earlier, Bilawal, 24, was the chairman of the PPP. The decision was made to off-set pressure from the Lahore High Court, which had asked Zardari to act on its suggestion that he should quit his post in the PPP as the President is expected to be impartial. The High Court has also asked the President not to indulge in political activities.
During the hearing of the case, Wasim Sajjad, the government's lawyer, had informed the court that the PPP was a "private organisation" and had nothing to do with politics. Sajjad had also informed the court that the party that had headed the government was the PPP-Parliamentarians, which was registered with the Election Commission.
"We hope the President will get relief from the High Court after quitting his political office," said the aide to Zardari, who did not want to be named.
After appointing Bilawal the patron-in-chief, PPP leaders plan to get the party registered with the Election Commission on March 25. The PPP-Parliamentarians had recently applied for the arrow as its symbol for the general election to be held on May 11.
In last month's intra-party election, former federal minister Makhdoom Amin Fahim and former premier Raja Pervez Ashraf were elected president and secretary general respectively. Under the reorganisation of the party, Fahim, Ashraf and former premier Yousuf Raza Gilani will lose their party posts. Gilani was senior vice-chairman of the PPP. Apart from Bilawal, only three new officials have been elected by the PPP.
Former Punjab Governor Sardar Latif Khosa will be the secretary general, former Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Governor Masood Kauser the information secretary and Amjad Ikhlaq the finance secretary. Ahead of the general election, the Election Commission has allocated symbols to most parties but it has to decide in the case of the PPP.
Lahore: Faced with a challenge from the assertive judiciary, President Asif Ali Zardari has quit the political office of co-chairman of the Pakistan People's Party and made his son Bilawal its "patron-in-chief".