Zardari says NAB action in Punjab won’t please him

March 09,2016

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Says endorsing NAB actions in Punjab after Sindh would be like slapping somebody back after being slapped; Musharraf needs to face accountability

NEW YORK: Former president Asif Ali Zardari has said NAB is a bad example and he would not be happy if it acts in Punjab after Sindh because “it would amount to slapping somebody in return for a slap you had.” He said a change in the NAB law was agreed to in the Charter of Democracy by both the PML-N and PPP.

He said Nawaz Sharif had agreed to change this law during the PPP regime and the government blocked the salaries of NAB officials but then Nawaz had a change of heart and NAB continued to work. He said a new accountability law was being made in Sindh and the federal government was also ready to have a dialogue on the accountability laws.

He said that the office of the president should be abolished as it was a burden on the national exchequer. In an exclusive interview with the Jang Group in New York, he said since it is settled in the Constitution that the country will have a parliamentary form of exchequer. In an exclusive interview with Jang Group in New York, he said since it is settled in the Constitution that the country will have parliamentary form of government, there is no need for 1,500-strong staff of the Presidency.

Laughing, he said there is talk of having presidential system now, if additional powers were to be given to the president, it should have been done when he was president. Getting serious, he said people back presidential system without understanding it as there will be no power of the Parliament in that system.

He said he would neither have the office of the president nor the prime minister as Bilawal Bhutto Zardari will be candidate for the office of the prime minister if the PPP comes to power. He said he would contest National Assembly election to play his part if he has to.

He rules out chance of a Martial Law, saying that elections would be held as per routine. About bad relationship with establishment, he said policies change with the change in command and during his tenure he used to insist on continuation of policies. About extension to Gen Raheel, he said it is the right of the government to do so and the opposition has no role in it. Asked what he would have done had he to take a decision on this extension, he said, “Do not make me Papu. No speculations in politics. Do not make a situation of ‘Papu yar tang na kar’ through your questions.”

On the arrest of Uzair Baloch and its implications, he said, “Who is ‘he’?” He said he faced many allegations ranging from the murder of Murtaza Bhutto to robbing a bank, but he won all these cases in courts. He said for the last 27 years, accountability of only Zardari has been carried out. He said everybody including Musharraf should face accountability.

He said disputes are generated from wealth, land and women and he did not have any such cause to have conflict with Ch Nisar. About the dangers Sindh government may face in the future, he said after the 18th Amendment, neither Sindh Assembly could be dissolved nor could governor rule be invoked. He said the only democratic way to dent the government is the resolution of lack of confidence, which the opposition is welcomed of bringing in whenever it has power.

He said he wanted to change government in Balochistan but could not succeed. He said credit for improving Karachi situation goes both to the provincial government and Rangers. He said they had a coalition government and were not able to launch such an operation as is going on today.

He said operation in Lyari started in the PPP regime and it was in that era that head money for Uzair Baloch was announced. He said during their rule, they had decided to remove crime from Lyari even if the PPP loses election as its result.

About the reference against Dr Asim, he said these are pressure tactics. He said they used to call Dr Asim “hare” from their childhood days. He said he had advised Dr Asim to shift from Nazimabad to Defence. Asked Dr Asim has with him his secrets and details of bank accounts, he said it is a modern age and now all these details pop up with the push of a button so why Dr Asim is needed for it. He said whenever anybody investigates his accounts, all details will be presented to them.

He said his statement about tearing down the system was misconstrued as it was aimed at right wing mindset and violence and not at establishment or army. He said after Iraq, Syria and Libya, Pakistan cannot afford an internal conflict.

Asked if he is afraid of returning to Pakistan, he said all through his 27 years of political life, he spent time in jail and during the PPP era there was not a single political prisoner. He said a minister is afraid of jail himself but talks of putting others behind the bars. He said he is ill and has got 27 injunctions in one day. He said now the pain is relenting and he would return home upon recovery.


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