With his government mired in a slew of court cases, President Asif Ali Zardari on Sunday took a jibe at the judiciary — but indirectly.
“They snatched our prime minister, Yousaf Raza Gilani, but we gave them another PPP jiyala (die-hard supporter) as a gift,” President Zardari told a gathering of party workers in Nawab Khan Wassan village near Kotdiji in Khairpur district.
He, however, chose to be ‘politically correct’ and did not specify who ‘they’ really were.
The Supreme Court had disqualified the predecessor of Raja Pervaiz Ashraf, the incumbent premier, following his refusal to write to the Swiss authorities to reopen a dormant graft case again President Zardari in compliance with the apex court verdict on the defunct National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO).
Reposing faith in party workers, Asif Zardari, who is also the co-chairperson of the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), said the ‘jiyalas’ would not let him down.
He rubbished media reports that the government wanted to delay the next parliamentary election and insisted that they would follow the schedule. “The polls will be free, fair and transparent, because the PPP doesn’t believe in rigging,” he added.
Calling himself a ‘spiritual son of [Zulfikar Ali] Bhutto’, Zardari predicted a landslide victory for his party in the upcoming election. “The PPP will emerge victorious on the basis of its performance,” he added.
Response to opposition
The president said his party did not believe in underhand dealings. “Shahbaz Sharif became the chief minister of Punjab because of our policy of national reconciliation,” Zardari said. However, he predicted that the next chief minister in Punjab would be from the PPP.
President Zardari admitted that the ballooning energy crisis has caused much angst, but held out an assurance that his government has taken steps to overcome the shortage soon.
Frequent, long-hour power outages have triggered countrywide protests with consumers going berserk in several cities, burning public and private properties.
President Zardari also said that his government was trying to provide jobs to as many jobless youths as possible. Mega projects are necessary to create more jobs and it is for this reason that the government is trying to woo foreign investment, he added.
“Sindh has already attracted a number of investors,” he said and added that his party’s government would usher in an era of prosperity in the province.
Though some government officials maintained the president flew to Khairpur in the sultry weather just to address party workers, sources said the real purpose of his trip was to appease former home minister Manzoor Wassan, who is reportedly unhappy with the party’s senior cadres.
Other sources, however, disagree.
Had that been the case, the matter would have been taken care of by inviting Wassan to the presidency in Islamabad or Bilawal House in Karachi.
Sources argued that Manzoor Wassan and his nephew MNA Nawab Wassan were planning on joining the PML-F, but the president successfully persuaded them against the move.
Sources added that Wassan might be given an important position in the provincial government in the near future.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 30th, 2012.