Asif Ali Zardari not to contest by-elections

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Islamabad, May 5: Pakistan People's Party (PPP) Co-chairman and slain Benazir Bhutto's widower Asif Ali Zardari is unlikely to contest the forthcoming by-elections, after his main coalition partner Nawaz Sharif opted out of the electoral race. Before Mr Sharif's decision, Zardari was being persuaded by his close confidants to jump into the electoral fray ''only to balance the weight'' that the PML-N chief would bring in the National Assembly with his presence there.

''If I am also present in the lower house, the position of our Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani will be weakened,'' The News quoted Zardari as telling one of his aides, who tried to impress upon him to contest the by-polls. He said he did not want Mr Gilani to feel under pressure because of any of his actions. It was argued that the premier's position would be affected because of the presence of a dominant political personality like Mr Sharif in the National Assembly.

Zardari said this point needs to be given a serious thought and it would also necessitate his presence in the National Assembly to maintain a balance there. Zardari told his associate that he has also been considering contesting the by-elections from Nawabshah from where his sister was elected to the lower house.

However, the PPP co-chairman has so far kept his election plans a closely guarded secret. Recently, he said he has four constituencies from all the provinces available to him.

UNI

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