Asif to host ‘show of strength’ party today
By Amir Waseem
ISLAMABAD, Feb 26: The first show of strength by three major parties — Pakistan People’s Party, Pakistan Muslim League-N and Awami National Party — which emerged victorious in the Feb 18 elections will be held here on Wednesday at a luncheon hosted by PPP co-chairman Asif Zardari for the newly-elected MNAs.
PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif, president Shahbaz Sharif and ANP president Asfandyar
Wali Khan are expected to attend the luncheon meeting where the three parties will get an opportunity for interacting with each other.
On Tuesday, Nawaz Sharif claimed in a statement to have cobbled together a two-thirds majority in the National Assembly.
It will be interesting to see how many newly-elected MNAs of the three parties and independents tuen up at the meeting.
Meanwhile, another independent MNA from Kalabagh, Malik Ammad, called on Mr Zardari on Tuesday and announced joining the PPP, along with his supporters and a number of union council nazims.
A delegation of the ANP also met Mr Zardari and discussed the possibility of cooperation at the centre and in the NWFP.
According to a handout issued by the PPP’s media centre, the PPP co-chairman presided over a meeting of losing candidates of the party.
Welcoming the participants, Mr Zardari said the PPP was the victim of “selective rigging” in a number of constituencies, but it had accepted the results. He said that the establishment, which always conspired against elected governments, had been weakened by the elections. “This is the time for democratic forces to strengthen institutions in the country and bury the conspiracies of anti-democratic forces forever.”
About the judges’ issue, he said his party fully realised how a weak judiciary had been manipulated by dictators to scuttle democracy in the past. “That is why we want to work with other political parties for strengthening the institution of judiciary by radically altering the mode of appointment of judges and giving it financial and administrative independence.” He said it was the responsibility of the new democratic dispensation to strengthen the institution, rather than individuals, so that the judiciary became a bulwark for defending the Constitution and was not cowed down by usurpers and violators.
Mr Zardari said his party would pursue its manifesto’s objective of setting up a Truth and Reconciliation Commission to recognise and accord respect to the victims of state repression and injustices. He said that despite numerous challenges, the PPP would not shirk from its responsibility and work with other democratic forces to find a solution to the problems.
The PPP co-chairman said it was now widely recognised by national and international jurists that the country’s first directly elected prime minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was “judicially murdered”. He said his party would seek the support of other parties for an apology from parliament for the murder of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto.
He said that the PPP had evidence to prove that how victory was snatched from its winning candidates and asked the participants that instead of getting discouraged they should challenge the manipulative practices at appropriate forums.
The meeting was attended Makhdoom Amin Fahim, Yousuf Raza Gillani, Jehangir Badar, Raja Pervez Ashraf, Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Qaim Ali Shah, Sherry Rehman, Yousuf Talpur, Khursheed Shah, Nisar Khuhro, Prof N.D. Khan, Rukhsana Bangash, Fauzia Wahab and Fauzia Habib.