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Loyalists open fire on Qureshi

February 13, 2011

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PPP Information Secretary Fauzia Wahab said that Qureshi had ditched the party leadership and it was not the first time he had done so. -AFP File Photo

ISLAMABAD: Former foreign affairs minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi has no future in Pakistan People’s Party, Information Secretary of the PPP Fauzia Wahab declared here on Sunday.

“Serious disciplinary action will be taken against him (Mr Qureshi) for violating the party discipline and humiliating its leadership,” Ms Wahab said while talking to Dawn.

Former minister Raja Pervez Ashraf also criticised Mr Qureshi for allegedly trying to blackmail the party.

The information secretary said that Mr Qureshi had ditched the party leadership and it was not the first time he had done so.

She said that Mr Qureshi’s role as foreign minister over the past three years had been questionable, adding that he did not support President Asif Zardari when he faced criticism in the media over his foreign trips.

She said that despite all his past acts, the party leadership had decided to include him in the new cabinet, but Mr Qureshi created a crisis just 25 minutes before the oath-taking ceremony at the Presidency on Friday.

She said it was the leadership’s job to assign a responsibility to a party member and alleged that Mr Qureshi was not ready to accept a change in his portfolio.

When asked whether Mr Qureshi had differences on the issue of US national Raymond Davis, she said, if he had problem over the issue he should have resigned earlier.

When contacted, president’s spokesman Farhatullah Babar said that Mr Qureshi had held a meeting with the president on Friday night, but he refused to divulge details of the meeting.

The spokesman termed it a routine meeting of a former minister with the president and expressed ignorance about statements of other party members against Mr Qureshi. However, political observers believe that PPP members holding important positions cannot issue such statements against Mr Qureshi without a nod from the party leadership which is apparently unhappy with Mr Qureshi for making public a statement on the issue of Davis.

Mr Qureshi, according to sources, was angered by President Zardari’s move to stop him from issuing any statement as foreign minister on the issue of Davis and assign the task to Interior Minister Rehman Malik.

The sources said that in a recent meeting of the party’s core committee, Mr Qureshi had objected to some points raised by Mr Malik while briefing the party on the Davis issue.

Mr Qureshi reportedly stated that “the kind of blanket immunity Washington is pressing for Davis is not endorsed by the official record of the foreign ministry”.

Mr Zardari, the sources said, was also unhappy with Mr Qureshi for intentionally skipping his meeting with a US Congress delegation last week. In the core committee’s meeting, the president had admonished Mr Qureshi for this in front of other members, the sources said.

Mr Qureshi was criticised by former water and power minister Raja Pervez Ashraf who, in a statement issued here on Sunday, said he acted like former president Farooq Leghari.

“The tone and tenor of Mr Shah Mehmood Qureshi indicate that another Leghari is in the making in the party. But Mr Qureshi’s fate will not be different from that of Leghari,” he said.

About comments of Mr Qureshi appearing in a section of the press, Mr Ashraf said: “He (Mr Qureshi) should realise and keep the example of Farooq Leghari in mind. He should also realise that the party always gives a fair chance of giving inputs regarding any decision and so was the case when the party took a decision to downsize the cabinet.

“Each of us, including Mr Qureshi, took part in the decision-making process at different forums, such as the core committee’s meeting and the Central Executive Committee meeting and there was a unanimous agreement to curtail the size of the cabinet,” Mr Ashraf said.

Only a day earlier, Mr Ashraf had himself complained to the president for not consulting senior party members on the cabinet issue.

“He must realise that his (Mr Qureshi’s) efforts to pressurise the party shall never succeed because the party does not draw its strength from individuals but from the people of Pakistan. It seems that Mr Qureshi has joined the bandwagon of political actors hatching conspiracies against the party leadership but this new conspiracy would also fail like previous ones.”

Mr Ashraf said that it was quite strange that Mr Qureshi’s revelations about the Raymond Davis case had come only after his exclusion from the cabinet, whereas the incident had been in the news over the past few weeks and the top leadership had categorically stated that the matter would be decided by courts.

He said that Mr Qureshi was insisting on keeping the portfolio of foreign affairs although he had been offered the ministry of water and power.

This showed, Mr Ashraf said, that Mr Qureshi’s “conscience awakened to the call of his personal interest and not in national interest” as he was trying to prove by feeding false stories to media.

Mr Ashraf said he would like to ask Mr Qureshi why he started expressing differences with the government after the issuance by a court warrants for the arrest of former president Gen (retd) Pervez Musharraf in the Benazir Bhutto case.

Despite repeated attempts, Mr Qureshi could not be contacted for his comments.