Feb 27, 2009
PPP ready to meet political challenges: Zardari
President Asif Ali Zardari on Thursday said the Pakistan People’s Party was a political force, which did not believe in confrontation and had adopted the policy of reconciliation for the sake of democracy and political stability in the country.“We will pursue this policy but we also know how to meet the political challenges that come in our way,” he said while addressing the office-bearers of the Punjab chapter of the People’s Lawyers Forum (PLF) at the Presidency.According to a participant of the meeting, the president expressed his displeasure over Mian Nawaz Sharif’s remarks about him and said he still did not understand how he could interfere in the court decision. “Mian Nawaz Sharif and Mian Shahbaz Sharif did not defend themselves in the court, and this decision was not against them but against the federal government which had filed an appeal against their disqualification,” one of the participants of the meeting quoted President Zardari as saying.The president, while explaining the situation that had led to the imposition of the governor’s rule in the Punjab, denied offering any ìbusiness dealî to Shahbaz Sharif in a luncheon meeting.The PLF delegation assured the president that they would not be a part of the long march and the Dharna politics. Law Minister Farooq H Naek briefed the participants on the court verdict and said there was no law or constitutional clause that empowered the president to set aside the court verdict, saying only parliament could do it with two-thirds majority.President Zardari said the provision of justice to the common man was the top priority of the government, which is cognizant of various problems being faced by ordinary citizens in this regard. “The government will make all-out efforts to ensure that speedy justice is delivered to all.” He said before coming to this meeting, he had signed an ordinance to provide free legal aid to needy in criminal cases through a network of public defender offices throughout the country at the district and Tehsil levels. “Let us get together and take our message to the people,” he said. He said he looked forward to more such meetings with the PLF office-bearers from other provinces and would also telephonically address the lawyers’ forums in different parts of the country.A host of issues relating to the political situation and other areas were also discussed during the meeting. About the problems of workers, the president said the privatisation policy of the government aimed at giving 15 per cent share to workers. A PLF source quoted the president as saying that though he was stunned by the decision, he would find new friends in the province after doing his bid to negotiate with the Sharif brothers. ìWe have been trying to settle matters with the Sharif brothers but they were maligning the sitting judges of the Supreme Court, which has resulted in such a decision,î Zardari observed according to the source.The government had been urging the Sharifs that Justice Iftikhar Chaudhryís issue should be set aside and the sitting judges allowed to work without hindrance but they continued to criticise them, the PLF leader observed.ìWe never wanted confrontation and have been negotiating with them (Sharifs) in good faith. We wanted things to get settled but the Sharifs were continuously attacking the judiciary,î Zardari was quoted as saying by the lawyer. ìWe will establish the governmentís writ in the Punjab without allowing anyone to take the law in their hands.î About the governorís rule, the president reportedly said that it was imposed to handle the situation in the Punjab and maintain the governmentís writ in the province. The president, ready to consider the lawyersí demands, made it clear that efforts at disturbing peace and using the movement for political ends would not be tolerated. Law Minister Farooq H Naek, meanwhile, recalled that he had introduced a constitutional package and invited all political players, including the PML-N, to float suggestions about it. Had the package been taken seriously, he said, it could have been passed and the situation would have been different today.The PLF delegation, headed by its Chairman Attorney General Sardar Latif Khan Khosa, included among others Sardar Khurram Latif Khosa, President PLF Punjab, Iftikhar Shahid, Senior Vice President PLF Punjab, Khawar Khatana, General Secretary PLF Punjab, and prominent lawyers Shafqat Abbasi, Habibullah Shakir, Syed Nayyer Hussain Bukhari, Zamarrud Khan and Amir Fida Paracha. The delegation also included all the PLF district presidents.