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Won’t contest presidential poll, says Asif Ali Zardari

President Asif Ali Zardari on Sunday said he will not contest the next presidential polls later this year as his Pakistan Peoples Party no longer has a majority in the national and provincial assemblies after it was routed in the historic May 11 general elections.

Zardari said he felt he no longer has the right to contest the next presidential election, which will be held once he completes his tenure in September. Zardari, 57, was elected president in September 2008, when the PPP and its allies were in power at the centre and in Balochistan, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Sindh provinces. 

The PPP currently is in power only in Sindh and controls the Senate or upper house of parliament. It no longer has the numbers to ensure the re-election of Zardari, who became chief of the PPP after his wife was assassinated in December 2007. Referring to his future plans, he said he would take on the leadership of the PPP if the party wants him to play such a role.

‘This time, I will not have the right (to contest the presidential election) because we do not have a majority. Yes, there can be a fight but that fight will become messy,’ Zardari said in an interview with Pakistan television anchors.

‘After that, if the PPP considers me capable of leading it, I will take on its leadership. Otherwise, I will function in the capacity of a worker,’ he added. Asked about the incoming PML-N government’s plans to hold peace talks with the banned Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, Zardari called for a cautious approach, saying it would be better to engage ‘political forces’ instead of directly talking with militants. 
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