The luncheon reception held in the honour of visiting Chinese Premier Li Keqiang was also the location of a one-on-one meeting between to-be prime minister Nawaz Sharif and President Asif Ali Zardari.
The two leaders met on the sidelines of the reception, which Nawaz said was “for the good of the country and the people”. They vowed to carry on with their much talked-about ‘policy of reconciliation’ in the greater interests of the country.
“I have already assumed Nawaz Sharif is the prime minister. He will get full support from the Presidency,” said President Zardari, to which Nawaz replied: “Zardari Sahab was a constitutionally elected President. Why would I ask him to resign?”
Nawaz had thus far been ‘avoiding’ meeting President Zardari one-on-one since the recently concluded general elections which the former’s Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz party won convincingly.
In February, he had ‘politely’ turned down President Zardari’s request for a private meeting at Raiwind.
Earlier, President Zardari received the PML-N leader in his conventional open-arms style with a smile on his face. However, when asked if his party would support Sharif’s looming instatement as the premier, the president said “it would be decided by Makhdoom Amin Fahim, the President of PPPP, as President Zardari had already detached himself from all political activities after assuming the Presidency.
Speaking to journalists, Nawaz said he regarded the country’s interest as being more important than self-interest. “We would perhaps not have sat together if we had considered our self-interest greater than Pakistan’s.”
“The country is facing massive problems for which everyone is required to work in harmony. No single party can single-handedly pull the country out of its present turmoil,” said President Zardari. He reiterated that all political forces should work together to rid Pakistan of its troubles.
The two leaders renewed their resolve to carry on with their ‘policy of reconciliation’ which remained practically suspended during most of the last five years.
Nawaz said he intends to continue upholding the principles of the Charter of Democracy he signed with the late former prime minister Benazir Bhutto in 2007.
It is yet to be seen as to what course the ‘reconciliation policy’ takes with PPP now on the opposition benches of the National Assembly and PML-N forming a government at the centre.
Commenting on his meeting with Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani this past Saturday, Sharif said all state institutions must be on the same page to effectively tackle the problems.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 23rd, 2013.
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