LAHORE: Former foriegn minister Sardar Aseff Ahmed Ali, who has recently joined the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, has claimed that he had strong reservations with the PPP leadership for preferrig comparatively his much junior colleague as foriegn minister over him.
Besides, he strongly criticised the PPP government for the alleged corruption of its ministers, claiming that ‘The Rental Power Projects’, the Railways, PIA and Steel Mills were disastrous for the country.
While referring to Babar Ghori from the MQM, he claimed that he had ruined the Port & Shipping Sector which was a disaster. He claimed that he was publicly criticising the corruption and bad governance of the government and had even agitated these things before the President and in cabinet meetings.
The former central leader of the Pakistan Peopleís Party and MNA giving an exclusive interview to The News.
Responding to another query about his annoyance with the party hierarchy, he replied that Benazir Bhutto in various meetings had termed him as her future foreign minister, however, he had supported Shah Mehmood Qureshi as foreign minister, ignoring the fact that he was much junior to him. He claimed that the prime minister while giving him green signal for the foreign ministry after Qureshiís resignation made Hina Rabbani Khar the foreign minister. He claimed that he had nothing personal against Hina Khar but when he was struggling for party with others in the streets of Lahore, Karachi and Rawalpindi, Hina was part of former dictator Musharrafís team. He stated the leaders should not have treated their senior colleagues in the shabby manner so he had strong reservation over the decision. He claimed that he had registered his protest to the PM and the President because it was his legitimate right.
Sardar Aseff said that the confrontational policy towards the US would further damage the interests of Pakistan and the only way out for the latter was that it would have to forget Afghanistan and focus on resolving its own issues. He was of the view that Pakistan could not afford estranged elationship with a super power like the US.
ìToday the biggest crisis for Pakistan is not the memo. The crisis we have is that we are an isolated country and are in a danger of getting into confrontation with the US which is going to affect our foreign policy, our internal security, our borders and our economy,î said Sardar Assef Ahmed Ali, who served as foreign minister in the second tenure of Benazir Bhutto.
He further said Pakistan did not have the resources and the money to wipe out its circular debt. ìAnd if we are not able to pay the debt, it is to be cleared through deficit financing which means very high inflation. It will erode the income of the people, particularly the salaried class, and there is a limit how much tax you can collect. Even after plugging all the loopholes, we wouldn’t have much to meet even our circular debt requirements,î he added.
Responding to a query about the way to get rid of drone attacks and other such interventions, he said Pakistan would have to give up ëfavourites.í He claimed that if Pakistan sincerely wanted to get out of the prevailing scenario, it would have to give up its Afghanistan policy. He claimed Pakistan’s policy should be that its friends, whosoever they were, should come on the negotiating table.
ìWe should encourage all the friends, either Haqqani or Mullah Omer, and tell them very clearly that we will create conditions for them to talk to the US and Nato leadership,î he said, adding that we should plainly convey to them that if they were our friends, they should not risk Pakistanís security. He stated the trouble started when we had our ëfavourites.í
Responding to another query about growing Indian influence in Afghanistan, he said we could not compare ourselves to India which had spent billions of dollar during the past few years compared to Pakistanís total investment of $300 million in last five years. He claimed that Afghanistan was not a part of Pakistan but a foreign country so Pakistan should not be worried about presence of India or any other country there. ìHowever, we should not allow anyone to interfere with Pakistan,î he said.
Sardar Aseff strongly criticised the role of PML-N President Nawaz Sharif on memo issue and claimed that he was surprised that a political leader, who claimed to be a democratic, did not believe in the parliament and moved things to the Supreme Court. He alleged that the PML-N had turned to the court into an ëinvestigation courtí and this was not the function of the SC to investigate the cases. He said that Nawaz had backstabbed the parliament through taking memo issue in SC.
He further stated that the DG ISI had gone to talk with Mansoor Ejaz without seeking permission from the prime minister which was an illegal thing. He claimed that there were series of questions which had to be answered and were going to be raised in the SC.
Assef came hard upon the establishment amidst allegations that it was running the national foreign and security policy of Pakistan. He claimed that the mandate of the people of Pakistan had been taken away by the establishment, and when this happened, distortions take place. He claimed that it had to be corrected.
He appreciated the recent decision of the government of granting India the status of the ëMost Favoured Nation,í terming it a very positive development. He alleged that the establishment, once again, was creating hurdles to it by ëorchestratingí the religious ërightí and the recent Lahore conference (Difa-e-Pakistan) was one of its demonstrations. He stated that if one took it seriously than we were a ìJihadi nation.î
To a query about the performance of Punjab government, Sardar Aseff said the PML-N seemed tainted in scandals such as wheat and Sasti Roti and added that the son of Mr Shahbaz Sharif had been a very controversial figure.