ISLAMABAD: In what appeared to be a patch-up, former foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi affirmed on Monday his loyalty to Pakistan People’s Party and the party said that no disciplinary action had been planned against him.
A statement from Mr Qureshi said he had “no personal grievances” against the party and its leadership over his exclusion from a 22-strong batch inducted on Friday and that he respected their decision to change the cabinet. The statement was issued apparently to counter raging speculations about his political future and even calls from some members of the party for a disciplinary action over his reported refusal to accept a change in portfolio.
And about the same time, a statement from a spokesman for PPP Co-Chairman and President Asif Ali Zardari said reports of a disciplinary action against Mr Qureshi were “wrong”.
But despite his apparent anxiety to clear the fog about his loyalty to the party, Mr Qureshi remained ambiguous about the case of US official Raymond Davis and sought to link his views on immunity for the person sought by Washington to the PPP’s “commitment to the people of Pakistan and their rights”.
A newspaper report had quoted the former minister as saying that “the kind of blanket immunity Washington is pressing for Davis is not endorsed by the official record of the foreign ministry”.
On the issue of his reported differences with the PPP leadership, Mr Qureshi said: “I respect the party leadership’s decision to change the cabinet and I hold, and have always held, the interests of the country, the party and its leadership in high esteem.”
He said he remained “committed to the party and the ideals and principles” …(it) has traditionally stood for”, such as the “commitment to the people of Pakistan and their rights” and, in a reference to the arrested American, added: “It is in this regard that I confirmed certain facts pertaining to the Raymond Davis case”.
He did not elaborate, on grounds of the case being sub judice, but said that if asked by courts, “I will reiterate the facts as were presented to me by the ministry of foreign affairs”.
While Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani has not yet named a new foreign minister, Mr Qureshi met Mr Zardari on Friday night.
However, some senior PPP members, including Information Minister Firdous Ashiq Awan and PPP Information Secretary Fauzia Wahab lashed out at Mr Qureshi the following day in what appeared to be a signal for a verbal attack on the former minister before a formal disciplinary action.
Farhatullah Babar, the spokesman for the president and PPP co-chairman, told Dawn that the party position on the issue of Mr Davis was “unambiguous and quite clear”.
“The issue is before the court and it is imprudent to comment on it,” he said.
Mr Babar disowned a statement made by PPP information secretary during a news conference in Karachi that Mr Davis enjoyed diplomatic immunity, saying: “Fauzia Wahab’s statement is neither party policy nor government policy. She herself has clarified that it is her personal opinion.”
On Sunday, Ms Wahab had said that the party would take a serious disciplinary action against Mr Qureshi for allegedly violating party discipline and humiliating its leadership. Mr Qureshi in his statement said: “I reiterate my unstinted loyalty and commitment to my country, the people of Pakistan and the Pakistan People’s Party and its policies, with or without a ministerial post.”