While the move was expected, it was finally executed to create maximum political damage.
Former foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Monday quit both his National Assembly seat and the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) amid rapidly unfolding changes to the country’s political landscape – bowing out with a searing speech against his former party members, in particular President Asif Ali Zardari.
Qureshi also called for other parliamentarians, particularly the opposition, to resign en-masse from the assemblies.
While announcing his resignation, Qureshi, once a contender for premiership after the 2008 elections, said the PPP has “buried Shaheed Benazir Bhutto’s vision”. Qureshi said today’s PPP had become the “Zardari League” since, “All those who betrayed Shaheed BB in her life are now close to President Zardari”.
While making the announcement to end his over two-decade affiliation with the PPP, Qureshi, however did not disclose his future line of action. “I will announce my political future on November 27 in Ghotki,” he added.
Qureshi made this announcement outside the Parliament House after the first day of the 36th session of the current National Assembly was adjourned following a brief sitting to pay homage to PPP’s former chairperson the late Begum Nusrat Bhutto. Qureshi said he had wanted to make the announcement on the floor of the house but was not given the opportunity.
Qureshi also urged the Supreme Court of Pakistan to take suo motu notice and probe the much talked about secret message allegedly delivered by Pakistani-American ‘businessman’ Mansoor Ijaz, to US officials on behalf of President Zardari.
While commenting on the policies of PPP’s Co-chairman, Qureshi said “President Zardari is pursuing the politics of capitulation and has converted the doctrine of reconciliation, a salient feature of BB’s politics into a doctrine of political perpetuation.”
Qureshi also criticised the PPP’s alliance with the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) saying, “The alliance with the PML-Q is a negation of the Charter of Democracy (CoD).”
Qureshi also clarified that he himself had declined to join the federal cabinet in February this year.
The reaction from the PPP to Qureshi’s resignation was swift and brutal. Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan said on Monday that Qureshi had written his political obituary and political wilderness was his destiny.
Dr Firdous said that his resignation from the assembly in such a manner was nothing less than a suicide attack on the democratic set-up. She said that he was physically with the PPP but mentally was following his mentor Ziaul Haq who had brought him to the political arena.
Punjab Governor Sardar Latif Khan Khosa was equally critical of Qureshi, saying people like him only lusted after power. He said that Qureshi was going to leave the PPP when Musharraf offered him a cabinet position but the deal did not go through only because the ministry was awarded to Faisal Saleh Hayat instead.
Dr Akhtar Malik, part of a purported PPP forward bloc in the Punjab Assembly that is supporting Qureshi, said that the PPP had become a self-centred party that had lost its worth. He said that he was now awaiting Qureshi’s directions before making his next move.
(With additional input from APP)
Published in The Express Tribune, November 15th, 2011.