Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Khursheed Shah warned of an open war if anyone dared to touch Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari.
“If anyone touches Zardari, it will be deemed as an act of war,” he told the media.
Soon after an anti-corruption court (ATC) issued non-bailable warrants for the arrest of former prime minister Yousaf Raza Gilani and Makhdoom Amin Fahim, a former federal minister, and sent Dr Asim Hussain, a close confidante of Zardari, for a 90-day remand, the party came up with a strong protest, extending veiled warnings against the government and other concerned authorities.
Shah criticised the arrest of Dr Asim who was presented before an ATC on Thursday in Karachi by the paramilitary Rangers on allegations of involvement in the embezzlement of funds and their use in terrorism acts.
The NA opposition leader claimed that Dr Asim was arrested without any prior investigations, saying cases were being made against Raja Pervaiz Ashraf on his alleged involvement in grey trafficking. Ashraf was minister for water and power and also briefly served as prime minister at the end of PPP last tenure in power. Khursheed Shah’s media talk was followed by a joint news conference by Sherry Rehman, the party’s vice president, and Qamar Zaman Qaira, information secretary, later in the evening.
The two leaders also talked tough on the law enforcement agencies and the federal government. “We have always faced cases in the courts and we are ready to face any corruption charges. But we will not accept that our leaders are tried under anti-terrorism laws,” they said.
The PPP leaders said their party was the worst victim of terrorism. It has given more sacrifices than any other party in this country for the cause of democracy, they said, adding that it has always opposed terrorism in unambiguous terms.
“We are ready to face anything in the courts of law but if you try to implicate us under anti-terrorism laws, we will not accept that. Be it government or any other institution, we will not accept it,” remarked Qaira.
Sherry also drove the point home, saying the party is ready to face any charges but there should be transparency in investigations and the judicial process. “Laws made to deal with terrorists cannot be used against politicians.”
The two leaders said that they would register their protest at every forum, most importantly in both houses of parliament. When asked if the party would go for a street movement if its grievances were not addressed, they said they never want to destabilise the democratic system.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 28th, 2015.