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Zardari says he’s ready to face all NAB cases

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ASIF Ali Zardari in conversation with JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman at the latter’s residence.—White Star
ASIF Ali Zardari in conversation with JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman at the latter’s residence.—White Star

ISLAMABAD: Former president and co-chairman of the Pakistan Peoples Party Asif Ali Zardari said on Wednesday he was ready to face the cases instituted by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) and expressed the hope that justice would be done.

“We will face NAB cases, as we did in the past, and will not go for striking any deal with the government,” he said at a press conference held soon after the arrest of Sindh Assembly Speaker Agha Siraj Durrani.

Referring to the fake bank accounts case instituted against him, his sister Faryal Talpur and other party leaders, Mr Zardari said he believed that NAB would do justice. “Propaganda is being unleashed against me and my sister. I don’t think that at this stage in our lives we should be humiliated in this way,” he said.

He said the PPP had not only accepted the courts’ verdicts but actively sought to strengthen them. “We will go before NAB, we will challenge NAB and face them. We are hopeful that the investigations will be fair.

“But if I have to go to jail, you know from the very beginning that it has been my second home,” he added.

About alleged involvement of Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari in fake bank accounts case, he said: “Bilawal is my son as well as his mother’s son; so why do you scare him? Scare those who have never seen this,” he said.

Assures nation that if India commits aggression the PPP will stand with the army

The PPP co-chairman said the opposition parties had already given enough time to the government led by Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) and hinted that the parties could get united against the ruling coalition. However, he did not elaborate on the opposition’s future line of action against the government.

“They [PTI] cannot run the government anymore, but we are watching them,” he said.

Soon after the press conference, Mr Zardari met Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman at his residence.

Talking about the recent visit of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman to Pakistan, the PPP co-chairman said the country was facing international isolation. “We do not have a single friend in the world,” he said.

Some “backseat drivers” had managed to bring some monetary assistance from some Muslim countries but that could not be termed international support, said Mr Zardari. “We welcomed the prince’s visit; we welcome him but due to mishandling of the government they did not invite me and Nawaz or Shahbaz,” he said.

In response to a question about distribution of funds among provinces, he said the federal government wanted to withdraw provincial shares from the National Finance Commission Award. “China also wanted equal distribution of shares among provinces, including Sindh and Punjab, under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor,” he said.

He regretted the “current immature government” did not fully understand the gravity of the situation that had arisen out of the recent Pulwama attack in which over 40 Indian security personnel had been killed.

“Pakistan has been isolated for many years and after they [PTI] have come we are becoming more isolated. But I assure the nation that if India commits an act of aggression then we will all stand united. The PPP will stand with our army brothers.”

Talking about the existing political situation in the country, he said if there were proper and fair elections and proper representation, there would be a better chance of success for Pakistan, and a better-run parliament.

Published in Dawn, February 21st, 2019