SUKKUR: Pakistan’s nuclear programme is not safe in the presence of President Asif Ali Zardari, former foreign minister and estranged Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) leader Shah Mehmood Qureshi said on Sunday while addressing a public gathering in Ghotki. He also announced joining Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), finally putting to rest weeks of speculation about his political future.
Qureshi did not give details of how Pakistan’s nukes were in danger but promised to talk about this in detail at the next public gathering in Karachi. He said he had been foreign minister and thus understood the issue well and knew the pressures and stresses Pakistan was facing over its nuclear programme. He also came down hard on the government’s alliance with the US as well as US policies towards Pakistan.
Qureshi said Asif Ali Zardari had used all his tactics to try and not allow him to hold the public meeting in Ghotki, because the president considered Sindh and its people his personal fiefdom. However, Qureshi said he had made it clear to Zardari that Sindh was not his personal property. He said that Zardari had conveyed a message to him not to enter Sindh, but he had held the public rally and thus broken Zardari’s position as the “pharaoh” of Sindh and conveyed the message that Sindh was the land of Sindhis.
Qureshi said that this public gathering was the first drop of rain and would soon turn into a fountain as his struggle for change continued. “Today is the first of Muhrram when Imam Hussain left Madina for Karbala to bury the status quo of Yazid. In the same way, I am here to bury the status quo of Zardari,” Qureshi said.
He said the object of his joining Imran Khan’s struggle for change was not power or rule but bringing real change. He said his and Khan’s convoy would uproot the Islamabad-based “pharaoh.”
Speaking about the Raymond Davis affair, he said he was asked to compromise over the murders of the three Pakistanis killed by Davis and was asked to give immunity to the killer but he declined and over that issue tendered his resignation to Zardari and the prime minister. Later, he even took the step of resigning from the National Assembly.
“Shah Mahmood Qureshi does not believe in forging or breaking relations with anyone in haste,” he said. “That is why I took ten months to take a decision and only then decided to leave the PPP and come forward to pull the country out of crisis and save Pakistan from disaster.”
Qureshi said the present National Assembly did not have the capacity to address the issues of the people, which is why he had decided to go to the masses because he believed in the power of the masses, “My political ideal Shaheed ZA Bhutto also believed in the power of the masses and called upon them to reject the present rulers and thus put the people on the path of changing the system, faces and thinking,” Qureshi added.
He said many people had asked him why he selected Sindh as the starting point of his political future with the PTI. He responded that Sindh was the first province that passed a resolution in the favour of Pakistan and the Pakistan movement also started from Sindh. “So the responsibility for bringing change rests on the shoulders of Sindh,” Qureshi said.
He said it was time to seek a fresh mandate because the rulers had completely failed to address the issues of the people.
Qureshi said the economic situation was not favourable to the common people; inflation was sky-rocketing, 80 million of Pakistan’s 180 million people lived below the poverty line and unprecedented power loadshedding had led to the shutting down of businesses. “This is why the youth looks to Imran Khan and searches for leadership and future direction,” Qureshi said.
He said Pakistan was rich in fertiliser production, but was importing urea due to mismanagement. “Zardari and Gilani have promoted plundering and looting and bad governance and caused Pakistan to lose international credibility. This is the right time to push them out,” Qureshi said.
He said that he had contributed 20 years of his life to the PPP and Shaheed Benazir Bhutto had recognised him and nominated him as the PM candidate in 2002. He was the first Zila Nazim to oppose the referendum of Musharraf. “Four years after BB’s death, the present rulers have failed to bring the killers in the net of law. How is this possible? Because Zardari and Gilani have protected the killers by giving them the front seats of power. Shaheed Benazir Bhutto had identified her killers but Zardari and Gilan to secure their thrones, had exploited the concept of political reconciliation, and given them a share in power.”
Qureshi said that the same Zardari who had earlier said it was not possible to talk to the killers of Shaheed Benazir Bhutto had now got the support of the PML-Q to prolong his power. He said that Qureshi had started his political career from the grassroots level, adding that politics was a volunteer-based service,
“Thus I reviewed the whole situation before announcing my political future: the choice was either to bid farewell to politics or come forward to save Pakistan. For this I consulted with my friends and family and finally decided to come forward for change,” Qureshi said.
He said he was now announcing the beginning of his political future with the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf and assured Imran Khan, who was also present on the occasion, that he was with him in the fight for truth and change and to break the political status quo. He called on the people of Sindh to support the PTI and attend its next public meeting at the Mazar-e-Quaid in Karachi. He urged them to appear at the rally in Sindhi caps and Ajraks to represent the province.