- PPP’s Sherry Rehman and Qamar Zaman Kaira say Zardari’s remarks ‘should be understood in a specific context since they point toward defining line in civil-military relations’
- Says political leaders have advised PPP chief to maintain cool; did not ask him to take back words
- PPP to move SC, parliament over issue
The Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) on Friday announced that it would not take back its party chief’s recent statements against army generals, with senior leaders Sherry Rehman and Qamar Zaman Kaira telling reporters after an Iftar dinner at Zardari House that Asif Zardari had targeted “former military personnel, not incumbent army chief General Raheel Sharif”.
“We have the highest respect for Gen Raheel,” said Sherry Rehman.
In a joint press meet, Kaira said the entire party stood by Zardari’s comments made at an event a couple of days ago in Islamabad. Kaira went on to say that Zardari’s remarks should be understood in a “specific context since they pointed towards a defining line in Pakistan’s civil-military relations”.
“If there was some harshness in Zardari’s tone, there must be a reason for that… But all senior members and political friends have advised Zardari to maintain his cool demeanor.” Kaira also said that no one had advised Zardari to take back his comments.
Sherry Rehman said the PPP was concerned with an imbalance in civil-military relations, adding that all party bearers are of the opinion that state institutions should not overstep their mandate.
When asked whether Zardari had consulted party members before making the military-related remarks, both Rehman and Kaira said Zardari “did not need to consult anyone to make comments at a local party event”.
“People’s Party is not defending corruption, let me make that very clear. We have always stood for rooting out terrorism and furthering democracy. Our goal is to balance civil-military relations in Pakistan,” said Sherry Rehman.
Both leaders said the PPP had fully supported the Karachi operation and also agreed to granting special powers to Rangers in Sindh, where the PPP has been ruling for more than seven years.
Some PPP leaders told Pakistan Today on condition of anonymity that Zardari had invited senior leaders of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf and Jamaat-e-Islami to the Iftar dinner but they had turned down the invitations. Neither the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) nor Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had been sent a formal invitation, they said.
The sources said that the Pakistan Muslim League (PML) delegation was led by Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain while Muttahida Qaumi Movement leaders were led by Dr Farooq Sattar. Leaders of the Awami National Party and chief of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam, Fazlur Rehman also broke bread with the opposition leaders.
It was learnt that the opposition leaders had decided to move parliament and the Supreme Court over the matter.
ZARDARI LIKELY TO ADDRESS NAUDERO RALLY:
Meanwhile, sources have told Pakistan Today that Zardari and Bilawal would visit the mausoleum of the late Benazir Bhutto in Naudero on Sunday where the two are expected to address the PPP workers.
On Tuesday, in an uncharacteristically aggressive speech, Pakistan People’s Party Co-Chairperson Asif Ali Zardari lashed out against what he called “the character assassination of his party” and warned the military leadership that if they did not stop, he would expose the misdeeds of many generals.
The confrontational tone of Zardari’s outburst was quite unprecedented, as was his open declaration of “dire consequences” if any action was taken against the PPP.
The PPP chief had sought a meeting with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif the very next day but the premier denied his request, reportedly after discussing the matter with Army chief Gen Sharif, who was on an official trip to Russia.