Zardari vows support to army, lashes out at PTI govt


–PPP co-chairman says Saudi crown prince’s visit was mishandled

–Former president says it’s import to address Iran’s grievances


ISLAMABAD: Former president and Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari on Tuesday said that his party will stand with the armed forces in case of any misadventure by India.

His statement comes in wake of the ongoing tension with India in the aftermath of the attack in Pulwama in Indian Occupied Kashmir. Referring to attack on the Taj Hotel in Mumbai which took place during his tenure as the president, he said, “We forced India to back down and handled it through diplomatic channels.”

Zardari was critical of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government’s handling of the situation with India. “Our government does not understand. Backseat drivers do not understand politics, which is why this issue keeps on escalating,” he said.

He accused the PTI-led government of contributing to Pakistan’s increasing diplomatic isolation. “We have an inexperienced government running the country right now. Their policies have left Pakistan more isolated in the diplomatic sphere and it is essential to address this matter at the earliest,” he said.

He warned India against any misadventure saying, “I want to assure you that if India does any misadventure, the entire nation is united. PPP will stand with the armed forces.”

He called for caution in Pakistan’s diplomatic moves, particularly highlighting Iran’s recent statements on relations with Islamabad. “We welcome the Saudi crown prince’s recent visit and what it entails for Pakistan. However, we must remember that Iran is our neighbour. It is essential that we make all efforts to address Tehran’s grievances,” he said.

Zardari said that the recent trip of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was mishandled. “They did not invite us, Nawaz Sharif or Shehbaz Sharif.” He added that a minister had tweeted that opposition leaders were unfit to meet the crown prince.

The former president said that he would have gone to meet the Saudi crown prince, had he been invited as he recalled that he had met the Chinese president under similar political tensions during PTI’s 126-day sit-in. “Nawaz Sharif called me so I went,” he said.

Zardari criticised the performance of the PTI government, saying, “We were trying to give them some time so they learn and fix the condition of the country. But if you want to run the government like this, then go ahead.

“I still think today that if there were proper free-and-fair elections and proper representation, there would be better chances for success in Pakistan, and a better-run parliament to solve issues.”

On the recent Supreme Court (SC) decision dismissing review petitions in the fake accounts case, Zardari said, “PPP has always accepted them [court decisions] and wants to strengthen institutions. In our tenure, we had raised salaries [of judges] to attract the best people. There are several good judges. We will face the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) inquiry and if we have to go to jail, you know that has always been my second home.”

“Bilawal is also my son and his mother’s son, so ‘why do you scare him’? Scare those who have never seen this,” he concluded.