Pakistan Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar is facing a challenge from within her party with Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) leader and parliamentarian Jamshed Dasti, told reporters in Multan on Sunday that he would contest the upcoming polls from the parliamentary seat currently held by Ms. Khar.
Mr. Dasti has also offered to replace Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf if he is disqualified by the Supreme Court for refusing to revive graft cases against President Asif Ali Zardari.
“This is not my decision but the voice of the people,” he said. “For the past four years, Ms. Khar has visited her constituency only four times and people from her constituency approach me for their problems,” Mr. Dasti said.
Reports have suggested that Ms. Khar could step aside so that her father can contest the next election from her constituency.
Ms. Khar contested the polls in 2008 as her father, Ghulam Noor Rabbani Khar, was ineligible due to a rule that barred candidates who were not graduates.
Mr. Dasti said he was willing to take on Ms. Khar, her father or anyone from her clan in the next election and that he would contest the polls as an independent candidate if he was denied a ticket by the PPP.
“I will not budge even if there is pressure from the PPP leadership not to contest the election in Hina’s constituency. I am not looking for support from the PML-N or Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf,” he said.
“I have thrown a challenge to Hina for contesting (polls) but she has invariably told the people that she won’t contest if the party doesn’t award her a ticket. She is using it as a pretext like all people with a defeated mentality,” he added.
Both Ms. Khar and Mr. Dasti belong to the Muzaffargarh area of Punjab province and the parliamentarian has been involved in a long-running feud with the minister and her family.
In 2008, Mr. Dasti defeated Ms. Khar’s uncle Ghulam Mustafa Khar to be elected to the National Assembly or lower house of parliament. The defeat was significant as Ghulam Mustafa is a veteran politician who has served as a federal minister and as the Governor and Chief Minister of Punjab.
Though Mr. Dasti was disqualified for allegedly possessing a fake educational degree, he was re-elected from the same seat in bypolls.