KARACHI: Condemning murder of federal Minorities Minister Shahbaz Bhatti, President Asif Ali Zardari said on Wednesday that the killing was a manifestation of the continuity of the same ‘mindset’ which had assassinated Pakistan Peoples Party founder Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and Benazir Bhutto.
Addressing legislators of the Sindh Assembly at Bilawal House, he said that terrorists wanted to ‘defame’ Pakistan by committing such crimes and wrongly portray Pakistan as an ‘intolerant’ country. “But we will continue Shahbaz Bhatti’s mission by electing one of his family members on his seat,” he said.
The meeting was initially called to review progress made by PPP MPAs, but later it was converted into a condolence meeting.
The president said that they were ready to render sacrifices to save the country and would not surrender before terrorists. “This is an ideological war. We should try to develop a soft image of Pakistan,” he said.
Sources privy to the meeting said that the president directed MPAs who had severely criticised the Sharif brothers during a Sindh Assembly session a few days ago to ‘avoid’ what he termed ‘unparliamentary’ attitude.
During the 30-minute speech, the president talked about Bhatti, the party’s reconciliation policy and terrorism, besides briefing about his visits to Japan and the US.
Sources said that the president said that although Nawaz League had backtracked in Punjab, the PPP was still adhering to its reconciliation policy.
Former adviser Sharmila Farooqui briefed reporters about the meeting.
Earlier, President Zardari telephoned Muttahida Qaumi Movement chief Altaf Hussain. Sources said that both sides discussed petrol prices. The president assured the MQM leader that their concerns would be addressed. An MQM delegation is also likely to meet the federal finance minister.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 3rd, 2011.