–PPP Co-Chairman Asif Zardari says being attacked ‘from all sides’ in bid to roll back 18th Amendment
–Says even if he tried to repeal constitutional amendment other provinces would not agree to it
–Denies seeking any NRO from present govt, says Nawaz Sharif doesn’t need his support
LAHORE: Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Co-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari on Saturday claimed that he was being intimidated and his friends were being arrested as part of a larger conspiracy to roll back the 18th Constitutional Amendment which enhanced provincial autonomy and divested parliament of certain powers.
Addressing a press conference in the provincial capital, Zardari said that he was being attacked ‘from all sides’ even during the election campaign. He, however, did not specify who was attacking him.
“I now understand that the quarrel is about the 18th Amendment,” he said, adding that even if he tried to repeal the 18th Amendment, other provinces would not agree to it.
“Punjab has the biggest advantage from the 18th Amendment because of its high population and the money it receives,” he quipped.
Stressing that the amendment had been passed with a long-term vision in mind, he said, again without naming anyone: “This is not your job… you leave this to the parliament, we will quarrel and wrangle [but] resolve this ourselves.”
The 18th Amendment, a landmark legislation that has lent greater autonomy to the provinces and divested the president of all his executive authority, was passed unanimously by the parliament in 2010 with all major political parties on board.
The PPP co-chairman claimed that when “they” failed in their attempts to take away the government in Sindh from the PPP, efforts were started to undo the 18th Amendment. He alleged that his friends were being arrested even though “they” had a problem with him.
Zardari claimed that two of his men, who he had been communicating with lately regarding a harvest and construction of an autaq (guest room) in Tando Allahyar, were recently picked up. He said authorities are now going after a group that he helped with industrialisation in Sindh.
“[They] term ‘trading accounts’ as ‘fake accounts’,” he said, in a reference to the fake accounts case in which he is being probed by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) and Federal Investigation Agency (FIA).
‘NOT ASKING FOR NRO’:
The former president also said that he does not need an NRO [National Reconciliation Ordinance] and if he is sent to jail, it will not be something new. He went on to claim that he never sought an NRO from former president General (r) Musharraf, adding that he did not need it then and does not need it now.
“The actors are worse than the act. They are bad actors. Actors of dictatorial act are doing a poor job. They will reap what they are sowing,” he remarked in an apparent reference to the incumbent rule in the country.
Moreover, Zardari appreciated the $6 billion financial assistance the PTI government has secured from Saudi Arabia and recalled that such cooperation between the two life-long friends had been seen in the past as well. He also termed China an “all-time trusted friend” of Pakistan which could be of help in difficult times.
“But this assistance from foreign countries won’t do,” the former president said, adding that the PTI government would have to rethink its management and “aggression”.
‘NAWAZ DOESN’T NEED ME’:
Zardari further said that neither he needs Nawaz Sharif nor does the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) supremo needs him. He added that a meeting with former prime minister Nawaz Sharif could be possible in a meeting of the All Parties Conference (APC) being proposed by Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI-F) chief Fazlur Rehman.
According to sources, Nawaz Sharif has been reluctant to hold a one-on-one meeting with Zardari as the former is unhappy with PPP’s role following the 2018 general elections.
Sources said that Fazl is making efforts to persuade the former premier to attend the APC, adding that the JUI-F chief is also expected to call on Nawaz on Sunday and hold discussion in this regard.
Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) members, on the other hand, said if Nawaz met Zardari then it would only be at the APC and the former premier would seek an assurance from Fazl regarding PPP’s support.
It is pertinent to mention here that Zardari had met Fazl at his residence a few days ago, where the two figures had agreed to summon the APC.
Fazl, however, had said that a date for the conference would be announced after consultation with Nawaz.
Zardari, however, said that the PPP is not interested in toppling the PTI government.
“I don’t want to topple the government rather I want the PTI to fail and step down from office itself,” he said.