by Ali Hussain and Zulfiqar Ahmed
ISLAMABAD: Following a tirade against the military establishment by Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari, the party leadership on Friday softened its stance, saying it was directed towards military dictators and not the armed forces of Pakistan.
The former president Asif Ali Zardari, who is widely known for his reconciliatory politics, invited the political leadership to an Iftar dinner which some insiders claimed was arranged after the party realised that any effort to turn it into an all-party conference will not succeed.
The party had extended invitations to all the political parties but except ANP, MQM, PML-Q and JUI-F, no other party attended his dinner. Zardari himself telephoned Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to grace the occasion but the latter opted to stay away in view of grave sensitivity of the issue.
However, sources said PML-Q chief Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain held a one-on-one meeting with the PPP supremo and advised him to retract his statement against the military. Qamar Zaman Kaira along with Senator Sherry Rehman told media persons that Asif Ali Zardari’s statement was directed towards former dictators, adding it was emphasized that all the state institutions, including the Rangers, must work within their constitutional ambits.
On the Karachi operation, Kaira said that all political parties had a consensus to launch an operation against the criminal elements and the Sindh government called in the Rangers in aid of the civil administration and it would continue to support it.
He insisted that no objective could be achieved until all state institutions worked within their constitutional parameters. The sole purpose of what Zardari said was meant to implement the National Action Plan in letter and spirit, according to Kaira.
He said that PPP had a track record to avoid confrontation, adding we had always advocated restoration of issues through reconciliation. “I would like to repeat that the NAP must be implemented in letter and spirit as was a consensus decision to go after terrorists”, he asserted.
To a question about withdrawing Zardari’s statement, he ruled out any pressure from any side to retract his statement. “Nobody has advised us to take back the statement nor are we going to do so,” he said.
He said the leadership gives statements, which does not need consultations all the times, adding the party is bound to own its leaders’ statements. “It should be made clear that we completely own whatever party co-chairman has said,” he declared.
Sherry Rehman said that PPP always stood like a rock against terrorists, adding it is the PPP which lost its leader Benazir Bhutto while fighting the menace of terrorism. “The anti-state elements must know that we will root out the terrorism and we have been doing so as this has always remain our motto to cleanse our motherland to the terrorists,” she said.
She said the PPP leadership had lauded the services of armed forces of Pakistan in the war against terrorism, adding nobody should suspect our intentions about the military as the armed forces’ sacrifices in the war against terrorism. The leaders who attended the dinner included PML-Q leader Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain, a delegation of MQM headed by Dr Farooq Sattar, Mian Iftikhar Hussain and Afrasiab Khattak of ANP and JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman.
Source: Business Recorder