ISLAMABAD (Agencies) - Laughing off the issues plaguing the country, President Asif Ali Zardari has said ballyhoo is being created in the media, but he never considered leaving his office.
Responding to speculation that the military wanted his departure, Zardari said leaving office was not an option and that no one has asked him to resign. “No one has asked for it yet. If someone does, I’ll tell you,” Zardari, who appeared in good spirits after medical treatment in Dubai last month, said in an interview with a private TV channel.
Harping on all-is-well mantra, he averred there was no clash of government with the military, no confrontation with judiciary and they had no fear of early election. When asked if ‘escape’ was an option for him, Zardari replied: “Why should it be?”
“These (things) are part of evolution. You think this is a fight, I believe this is part of evolution. This fight will boil up and will simmer down then… We have no war with the court, why should we have a fight with the army?” Zardari said.
Zardari asserted his party-led government was running the state affairs in the best way. He said he is ready for talks with PML-N President Nawaz Sharif on all the issues including early general election. “The Pakistan People’s Party-led government was not afraid of elections.”
Asked if he will accept findings of SC appointed commission in the memo scandal, he avoided giving a direct answer saying “let the investigations be completed. But he added: “The results of the inquiry being conducted by the parliamentary committee will be accepted as the parliament is supreme,” he said, averring that the matter had been blown out of proportion. Asked about Prime Minister Gilani’s statement in parliament, Zardari said the premier was pointing the finger of blame at the regime of former military ruler Pervez Musharraf. “Osama was here for seven years, there should be accountability for that and he (Gilani) was talking about Musharraf. Why is that being linked to the army?” Zardari said. However, he added: “It is not fair for me to deliberate on it; he (Gilani) should be asked about it (the remarks).
The president also defended Gilani on his comments describing the army as a “state within a state”, contending that he was a “powerful” prime minister who had the right to speak of the problems he or the government may be facing, including differences with any institution.
“He has all the powers, he does not feel (he is) under anybody. If there is some matter perturbing him, he has the right to take a position, and he has taken a position.”
About the Swiss case reopening, Zardari said he was not afraid of Article-248 and that he considered the Swiss case as a trial of Benazir Bhutto. He said he would only remain president for the next 12-15 months after which the next government may write to Swiss courts, adding “why would my government do so?.. The case and Swiss courts will have significance in history thus neither I nor my prime minister will want such a thing to be part of the history that his (party’s) own government wrote against him to the Swiss courts.”
Asked to comment on the deteriorating condition of state-run organisations such as PIA, Railways and Wapda, the president said: “Media think it was so, but I don’t think so, these entities have only weakened (not destroyed)”.
About the Haj scam, he said former religious minister Hamid Saeed Kazmi was “not-guilty” in the case. His bail should be accepted and this kind of proceedings should be held at a sessions court.
Zardari denied any rivalry with the chief justice, saying he was not simple enough to belief in foolish things. “Why CJP’s attention was not drawn to BB’s murder case?” Referring to his address at Garhi Khuda Buksh, the president said the lower judiciary, which functions under the chief justice, was supposed to reach a judgment in the case. He said the FIA had submitted challans to the court and asked as to why four judges had been changed during the course of hearing.
To a question about Benazir’s security at Liaquat Bagh rally, Zardari gave Rehman Malik a clean chit, saying he was not responsible for BB’s security. He said BB’s public meeting was organised by one person whom he did not name. “Malik and we were against holding of this public meeting,” he added. President Zardari said he and his children tried to stop Benazir Bhutto from her return but she could not be convinced.
“I have reached Baitullah Mehsud but I won’t put a full stop there, I want to move ahead. Condoleezza Rice’s (former US secretary of state) book also has a hint that points towards it.” The president also referred to BB’s email to Mark Siegel in which she said in case of her assassination Musharraf be held responsible. “He (Pervez Musharraf) will be responsible; he is part of the FIR. Why is the judge not taking actions against him?” he asked.
Asked about guard of honour to Pervez Musharraf, he said it was the officers at Presidential House that did so. He went on: “Putting Pervez Musharraf on trial would have demoralised the army and the entire institution.” To a question on whether the parliament should hold Musharraf’s trial under Article-6, Zardari said: “I think collective wisdom will prevail.”
Asked whom he had referred to as ‘Qatil League’, he said: it was a name of a force, a mindset. “If you think it was Musharraf’s government, I don’t think so. Musharraf was just a Prima Donna of that mindset.”
About his remarks calling Nawaz Sharif a cleric, he said: “You cannot deny the fact that he (Nawaz) followed politics from Ziaul Haq.”
To a question on why he did listen to the advice of Nawaz on not granting extension to Chief of Army Staff and ISI DG, he said the advice was given through media (and not in person). If Nawaz had some serious objections to the extensions, he should have come to street against the decision, he said, adding, “He (Nawaz) should have at least get a resolution passed in Punjab Assembly against the decision.”