Islamabad: President Asif Ali Zardari has said that he should have quit his position and led the Pakistan People's Party's campaign in order to ensure a better performance in the just concluded general election.

Zardari made the remarks while interacting with a delegation of the South Asian Free Media Association at his private residence in Lahore on Sunday night. The PPP, which led the government at the centre for the past five years, was routed in the May 11 polls by the PML-N.

He said the PPP's campaign had become leaderless and rudderless due to his constitutional position and various other factors. Zardari stopped participating in political activities earlier this year because of pressure from the Lahore High court, which ruled that the President was expected to be apolitical and impartial.

He was unable to campaign for the PPP, and his son, Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, was never seen in public. The PPP could not conduct a proper campaign in Punjab province because of threats from the Taliban and the judiciary too was against the party, Zardari said.

At the height of the campaign, top PPP leader Yousuf Raza Gilani had to shift his focus to his son Ali Haider, who was kidnapped, Zardari said. Former premier Raja Pervez Ashraf was fighting court cases and other top leaders were detached from the campaign for one reason or the other, he added.

In a lighter vein, he said, "If I get these returning officers, I can win the (next) presidential election."

Zardari dismissed reports that he would step down in the aftermath of the PPP's defeat, saying he intended to complete his constitutional term. He is set to complete his five-year term in September.


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