NAUSHAHRO FEROZE: Pakistan Peoples Party co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari has criticised Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif over his role as the leader of the house in the National Assembly.
Addressing a gathering of party workers and supporters at a lunch hosted by Sindh Law Minister Zia-ul-Hassan Lanjar in Moro on Saturday, he said that Mr Sharif had attended only four sessions of the assembly in as many years. Former prime minister Mohammad Khan Junejo must have attended more sessions than Mr Sharif.
He said that such a precedent would lead to poor attendance in National Assembly sessions by leaders of the house in future.
The former president claimed that it was due to him that Mr Sharif was prime minister as he had given powers back to parliament through the 18th Amendment. Otherwise, Mr Sharif would have opted for the office of president and would have remained there (in Presidency) for a lifetime, he added.
Says country must have a foreign minister and clear foreign policy
He criticised the prime minister for his scant concern over foreign policy and said that the country must have a foreign minister with a clear foreign policy.
It was Zulfikar Ali Bhutto who laid the foundation of Pakistan’s friendly ties with China which were later strengthened by Benazir Bhutto and him (Zardari), the PPP leader said.
In an apparent reference to India, he said that there was only one country against the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor and that country was a “friend of Nawaz Sharif”.
There was no other country of the world that had objected to economic growth in Pakistan, Mr Zardari said.
Pakistan had never threatened anyone nor did it have the intention to do so, the former president said.
He said that Kashmir was an integral part of Pakistan and the Kashmir cause was the most important agenda item for the country and close to the heart of its people. He recalled that the United Nations’ decades-old resolution on Kashmir remained unimplemented and said that the government had no foreign policy (to promote the Kashmir cause).
Mizoram, Nagaland and Nepal were under Indian control and the world never looked into it, he said and added that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi was being hugged by people (during his foreign tours).
“On the other hand, Mian Sahab is busy playing with pets in Murree while Pakistan is passing through a critical time.”
He recalled that PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari had urged PM Sharif two years ago to appoint a foreign minister and strengthen the foreign ministry as he was losing a diplomatic war.
About the recent wave of PPP leaders joining the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf, he said that those changing loyalty were rotten eggs and even Captain [Imran Khan] was not taking them seriously and would not award them party tickets for the coming general elections.
The country was teeming with resources of every kind and what was required to take benefit from them was a sharp brain, he said, adding that Babus sitting in Islamabad needed to understand this. He said that during her government, Benazir Bhutto had constituted a committee for setting up power plants and was expecting $40 billion investment in the sector but later they [Nawaz Sharif] saw a dream that these were wrong projects.
“We always came into power when the country was in crisis and left it in a better shape,” the PPP leader said.
Former chief minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah and Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Syed Khurshid Shah also spoke at the event.
Published in Dawn, July 2nd, 2017