THE NEWS, LAHORE, 09th SEPTEMBER 2013: Former president Asif Ali Zardari has said the PPP will stand by the PML-N government in the interest of democracy and would not let Nawaz Sharif’s rule the weakened.
Addressing a gathering of party workers here at the Bilawal House for the first time after quitting the Presidency, the former president said it was easy to add fuel to the fire but very difficult to extinguish it.
He said some forces were busy in setting the region on fire and wanted to thrust Pakistan towards chaos. However, he said, “Those who took up arms against us must know that we are not among those who surrender.” He also paid rich tributes to party stalwart Zamurrad Khan for his brave act in Islamabad a few weeks ago. He said Khan set new traditions.
He said he had followed the mission of Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and Benazir Bhutto, adding, “We empowered women, transferred powers to the people and laid the foundations of a new Pakistan.”
He said that parliament was strengthened during his era and the president and his party would now continue to support the democratic forces in the future as well.
Zardari said that the PPP mandate was hijacked but the party accepted the election results in the interests of democracy and assured the PML-N government that it wouldn’t be weakened. He said, “Qadam Barrhao Nawaz Sharif Hum Tumharay Saath Hain.”
Zardari vowed that he would stand by Nawaz Sharif to defeat those forces that wanted to weaken the country. He said he would fully participate in the politics of the country and remain in contact with the masses. “Wewill stand with democracy and democratic forces. Mian Sahib! We will not let you weaken and fight anti-democratic forces alongside you.”
Expressing complete solidarity with the workers, the outgoing president said his doors were always opened to them and he would stand by them.Agencies add: President Asif Zardari became the first democratically elected president in the country’s history to complete his term in the office as he stepped down. His successor, Mamnoon Hussain, is scheduled to be sworn in Monday (today).
Earlier, Zardari was presented guard of honour at the Presidency to bid farewell. He arrived at the formal ceremony of his farewell aboard a traditional ‘buggy’, a horse-driven cart. National anthem was also played on the occasion.
After the guard of honour, the president individually shook hands with senior officials of Aiwan-e-Sadr. He was driven away in a black luxury saloon car from the Presidency.On the occasion, the president’s spiritual leader Pir Mohammad Ijaz was looking very active.
Analysts count his government’s completion of a full term in a hostile political environment to his credit. However, economic mismanagement and a failure to tackle the country’s energy crisis hurt Zardari’s popularity, they say.
In an interview with Geo TV to be aired today, Zardari talked about “lost opportunities” and admitted that the economy could have been better managed. He said, “More work could have been done.”
Zardari said he took pride in the amendments made to the constitution.Zardari’s other major accomplishments include transferring power in democratic elections in a country plagued by military coups. He also agreed to a constitutional amendment that transferred many of the president’s powers to the prime minister, leaving his position as largely ceremonial.
The army launched major operations against the Pakistani Taliban during Zardari’s tenure, but the group has proved resilient and continues to stage frequent attacks against security personnel and civilians.
Zardari made it clear in the interview that he didn’t have any desire to hold any other government office in future. He said the Presidency should be ultimate position for any politician. He said that he would like to help his party after it lost badly in the May elections.
“In my opinion, building the party is a bigger job,” he said.Before the president left for the airport, PPP activists raised ‘Jiey Bhutto’ slogans. He will be attending the oath-taking ceremony, as former president, of the newly elected President Mamnoon Hussain today. Mamnoon Hussain, a textile businessman, is set to replace Zardari as president. He is a long time member of PML-N and served as governor of Sindh for about four months in 1999. Otherwise, he has not been a prominent figure in national politics.
On this occasion, PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said that his father President Asif Ali Zardari sacrificed eleven and a half years of ‘his life as a political prisoner fighting for democracy in Pakistan’.
He tweeted, “He (President Zardari) lost his wife and I lost my mother in this battle, but we have won the war. Democracy has arrived.” The message came hours before the president received guard of honour.
In Lahore, eminent lawyer and PPP senior leader Senator Aitzaz Ahsan said that Zardari enjoyed immunity as president of the country but the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) might open cases against him after his departure from the Presidency.
Speaking to media, he said there was no constitutional restriction on the president to take part in politics. He said that the PPP was ready to face the situation.Aitzaz said nothing was left in cases against Zardari as most of the co-accused had been acquitted by courts.Earlier, Secretary of the Aiwan-e-Sadr, Nasreen-ul-Haq presented a “document of sentiments” from the staff and officers of the Presidency to the former president.
The document particularly noted President Zardari’s strong dedication and conviction towards strengthening democracy, which for the first time in the country’s history ensured smooth transition of power from one elected government to another.Presidential Spokesperson Farhatullah Babar also resigned from his post just a few minutes after Zardari inspected guard of honour.