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President Asif Ali Zardari. — File photo

ISLAMABAD: President Asif Ali Zardari has taken a serious view of resignation of three PPP leaders from the Punjab Assembly and a controversial report of the National Accountability Bureau on corruption.

Soon after his return on Friday from an official visit to three countries, the president called Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf to the presidency and expressed concern over the two issues.

“The issue of resignation of PPP MPAs and NAB’s report on corruption was discussed during the meeting,” president’s spokesman Farhatullah Babar told Dawn.

According to media reports, Jamil Shah, Nishat Ahmed Daha and Babar Hussain sent their resignations to the Punjab Assembly Secretariat on Thursday. The three belong to Khanewal district which is believed to be a stronghold of the ruling PPP. They are reported to have some differences with the PPP leadership.

A recent clean sweep by the opposition PML-N in by-elections to two National Assembly and six provincial assembly seats in Punjab also raised questions over PPP’s political position in the province.

Sources in the presidency said President Zardari had expressed displeasure over recent political developments in Punjab, especially after former prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and senior leader Mian Manzoor Wattoo were tasked to strengthen PPP’s political standing in the province and streamline its internal affairs.

They said the president was especially concerned over the NAB report which stated that the country was losing Rs12 billion to corruption every day. The report is quite damaging for the PPP, especially when the general elections are round the corner.

The sources said NAB Chairman Admiral (retd) Fasih Bokhari, who was appointed by President Zardari on Oct 17 last year, might be replaced.

According to an official press release, the president briefed the prime minister on his visit to South Korea where he met President Lee Myung-bak. Mr Zardari also held a series of meetings with top South Korean business leaders and urged them to take advantage of the investment-friendly regime in Pakistan, increase their investment and play greater role in building strong economic and investment bonds between the two countries.

The president also visited Malala Yousufzai in Britain’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital and inquired about her health. He said the hospital authorities had informed him that Malala was steadily progressing and had made great progress on way to full recovery. The president was accompanied by his daughter Aseefa Bhutto Zardari.

Mr Zardari also briefed the prime minister on his visit to France where he attended a high-level event organised by the Pakistan government and Unesco to further promote the cause of girls education in Pakistan and other parts of the world.

Mr Zardari also met his French counterpart François Hollande.

LETTER TO BILL GATES: President Zardari reiterated his government’s commitment to undertaking concerted and coordinated efforts to eradicate polio and show zero tolerance towards administrative lapses and inefficiencies in implementation of polio eradication strategies.

In his reply to a letter by Bill Gates of Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the president said Pakistan was fully cognizant of its responsibility for eradication of the crippling disease and had made progress in controlling it, despite some challenges in implementation of the National Emergency Action Plan. To fill gaps in the plan, he said, a national task force, headed by the prime minister, had been set up to address the issues being confronted in successful implementation of the anti-polio drive.

“The key challenge of inaccessibility in Fata is being addressed with a strong coordination mechanism making polio eradication a cross-party issue,” the press release quoted the president as saying.