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Nawaz and Imran no respect for democracy

NAUSHAHRO FEROZE: President, Pakistan People’s Party Parliamentarians (PPPP) and former President Asif Ali Zardari said that it is time Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif gets to know what accountability actually means on Thursday.

While addressing to an occasion in the district of Naushahro Feroze, he stated the nation awaits several questions which arose from the Joint Investigation Team’s (JIT) Panama probe, as tasked by the Supreme Court. Zardari maintained that the 2013 elections were hijacked by the Returning Officers (ROs).

He highlighted how his own party was held accountable several times during the last tenure, and in the past. PPPP President also criticised Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan, as a response to his accusations.

Zardari has said that Nawaz Sharif and Imran Khan had no respect for democracy. He said that had he not given powers to the parliament, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif could never have become the premier.

“Only I know the value of democracy,” Zardari said and adding that Imran and Nawaz don’t recognise the importance of democracy. I have faced jails and courts, I am a democratic man, He said that “I am person who believes in democracy, I have served time in prison,” he said. “However, no one has respect for that,” he added.

He said that a comparison can easily be drawn between the Pakistan that PPP had handed over to the current ruling party and the Pakistan of today. “We gave powers to the provinces through the 18th Amendment,” he said. “Investment opportunities with China are the gift of the PPP,” he added.

The former president said that it was time the nation should make up its mind. He said that there were lots of questions rose which went unanswered. “The country is still standing where we left it several years ago,” said Zardari. Former Sindh Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah also attended the event where he told that the Sharif brothers are in hot waters since the Panama case inquiry. “The people of Punjab are waiting for Asif Zardari,” he said with conviction.TheDailyTimes

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Asif Zardari greets Muslims on the eve of Eidul Fitr

Islamabad June 24, 2017: Greeting the Muslims throughout the world on the eve of Eidul Fitr former President Asif Ali Zardari has urged them to “pursue the spirit of Ramazan even beyond the formal end of the holy month and pursuing the values of tolerance and humility on the one hand and abstention from evil thought, evil speech and evil deeds on the other”.

The evil of this age is intolerance and extremism and the forcing down upon others of one’s peculiar religious values and interpretations, he said adding, “together we must fight this evil by saying NO to all self styled custodians of morality and interpreters of religious thoughts and values”.

On this Eid the Muslims should also give a serious thought to the complex challenges to their unity. They need to work together and extricate themselves from dangerous precipice, the former President said.

On this occasion let us also remember the poor and the needy and all those who have laid down their lives for the sake of peace in the country and fighting religious fanaticism.

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Zardari slams cover up of incident of running over of traffic warden in Quetta

Calls for investigation and dispelling impression of cover up

Islamabad June 24, 2017: Former President Asif Zardari has taken serious note of the incident in Quetta the other day of a speeding car running over a traffic warden on duty and called for thorough investigations to allay suspicions of cover up.

Spokesperson Senator Farhatullah Babar said that the former President Asif Zardari who is in London expressed profound grief and shock over the death of  Sub Inspector Haji Attaullah Dashti in the incident and the questionable manner in which the case was dealt with.

Details of the case emerged days later after the social media ran its CCTV footage showing a madly driven car seeming to deliberately run over a police warden. Police however registered a case of traffic accident against unidentified persons,he said.

“There is a serious inconsistency between the gravity of the incident on the one hand and investigations and case registration on the other that smacks of a deliberate cover up”, Zardari said.

The former President said that the police warden was run over on Tuesday and CCTV footage was available yet it was not pursued in normal course and no explanations offered also raised questions that needed answers.

The fact that the politically influential owner of the car initially chose to remain silent and spoke up only after the footage went viral on social media further lent credence to suspicions of political pressure to hush up the incident, he said.

Zardari said that any attempt at cover up would strengthen the perception that the relationship between citizen and the state was government more by social status than by law besides demoralizing the police force.

Any cover up will be a travesty of justice that cannot and must not be permitted nor condoned, he said.

Zardari also prayed for the soul of late Haji Attaullah Dashti and expressed profound condolences to the bereaved family members. He also asked for compensation and a civil award to late Traffic Warden Haji Dashti.

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‘Have complete faith in competent, professional JIT’

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) leader Senator Rehman Malik on Friday said that he had full faith in the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) consisting of “professional and competent” people, and added that he “doesn’t think the team will be unjust towards anyone”.

Talking to the media after his appearance before the JIT, formed to probe prime minister’s financial dealings abroad, Malik said that he had confirmed every word of his report – already submitted in the Supreme Court – including the two letters written to former president Rafiq Tarar.

He added that he had provided additional evidence to the JIT. He also criticised the ‘propaganda’ against his party, saying his political opponents had been claiming for the last 15 days that the PPP had entered into a deal to save Nawaz Sharif. “I am not here to save or entrap anyone… neither am I here to avenge anyone,” the former interior minister said.

The team had summoned Rehman Malik to appear for questioning regarding Sharif family’s Hudaibiya Papers Mills. According to details, the JIT had asked Malik to bring over a report on the past investigation into the Hudaibiya Paper Mills.

Taking a jibe at Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Chairman Imran Khan, Malik said that he was claiming the accountability of the Sharifs was an outcome of his struggle, but had forgotten it was him (Malik) who “prepared the pitch of the ground”.

Earlier, on reaching the Federal Judicial Academy, he had said during a media talk that he would do justice with the nation as well as his profession.

“After the documents I provide them [JIT] today, there will be no need [to get more evidence in the case],” he claimed. Malik brought with him documents related to the case.

He said he was carrying two letters to the then president and necessary evidence [to the JIT], and also named the 10 investigators who were part of his team when he investigated Nawaz Sharif in the mid 1990s.

“I will only come out after the JIT is satisfied with all questions related to money laundering,” he added. “I’m a hockey player and today I will score a goal,” he said before proceeding inside.

The JIT, formed on May 6 in light of the Supreme Court’s April 20 judgement in the Panama case, is probing the Sharif family’s global financial assets.

Malik, a former bureaucrat, also served in the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) on various posts, and later became the agency’s director general.

He was investigating Nawaz Sharif for corruption during the second government of Benazir Bhutto in the mid-1990s while being in the FIA.

Malik had claimed in a press conference that he would record his statement with full freedom before the JIT. The JIT will submit its complete investigation report to the Supreme Court’s special implementation bench on July 10. TheDailyTimes

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PPP condemns the LHC incident

Islamabad June 22, 2017: The Pakistan Peoples Party expresses profound grief and shock and condemns the ugly courtroom spectacle in Lahore the other day in which the legal team from Asma Jehangir’s chamber and its female client were subject to vitriolic invectives and physical assault by some lawyers denying their basic right to be heard freely in a court of law.

This most sad and deplorable incident has strengthened the perception that lawyers community is increasingly resorting to behavior inside the courtroom that is against their duty to uphold the rule of law- particularly in those criminal cases in which members of the bar themselves are implicated.

This has been stated by Secretary General of the Party Senator Farhatullah Babar in a statement today.

It is a sad thought that while the nation yearns for reforms in criminal justice system some lawyers are driven by an urge to resort to physical violence in courtrooms and yet get away with it, he said.

The impunity with which lawyers resort to the kind of behavior is a shocking indictment of all concerned. It is the responsibility of everyone, more so of the bars, to look into it and find a remedy before it is too late, he said.

The incident in the Lahore High Court marked by the shouting of obscenities at Asma Jehangir and the women complainant also highlights the misogyny that is still at work even among highly educated and supposedly law abiding community of lawyers.

It has brought to the fore how public spaces are increasingly becoming unsafe for the women. The message of Lahore incident is that women of Pakistan-whether as lawyers or as litigants, unsafe and besieged even in courtrooms, should abandon the thought of securing justice, Senator Farhatullah Babar said.

This is an ominous message that should be a cause of concern for all bar councils in the country that are supposed to regulate the profession in the country, he said.

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Zardari pays glowing tributes to Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto

Islamabad June 20, 2017: Former President Asif Ali Zardai has on the 64th birthday of Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto on June 21 paid glowing tributes to her for “her vision, steadfastness and relentless fight for the cause of women and downtrodden on the one hand and upholding the banner of democracy aloft while leading from the front the fight against militants created and nurtured by successive dictators and their henchmen in the country, on the other”.

On this birthday of the Muslim World’s first directly elected woman Prime Minister it is worrying that the anti women brigade created by the dictators continue to suppress women, even calling for violence against them, in the name of religion.

“We condemn and reject the hysterical anti women noises increasingly being made by these elements”.

Zardari also asked people to follow Shaheed Benazir in standing up to militants and extremists and not allow them foist their ideology through brute force.

He said that the last words uttered by Shaheed Benazir Bhutto at public meeting in Rawalpindi asking people to stand up to extremism, dictatorship and to banish poverty and ignorance were the road map for PPP to make Pakistan a modern and pluralistic state.

Mr. Zardari said that the Party will continue fight militancy and strengthen democracy andextricate the poor from abject poverty and degradation.

Zadari also paid tributes to those who laid down their lives or suffered in the course of democratic struggle and in fighting regressive elements. On the eve of Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto’s birthday we salute them all, the former President said.

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Bilawal pays glowing tribute to Benazir Bhutto

KARACHI: Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said on Tuesday that it was the sacrifice of Shaheed Benazir Bhutto that had restored democracy in the country.

In his message on her 64th birthday anniversary, the PPP chairman said that Shaheed Benazir Bhutto lived and laid down her life for the cause of downtrodden people while fighting tyranny. “Shaheed Benazir Bhutto was dragged from court to court for three decades and held in solitary confinement by dictators and their handpicked henchmen. However, she remained steadfast and fought against undemocratic forces valiantly till her last drop of blood,” he said.

Bilawal Bhutto Zardari pointed out that it was Shaheed Benazir Bhutto, who had challenged extremism and militancy and commanded the nation during fight against terrorism, eventually embracing martyrdom.

He said that people of Pakistan were indebted to the great icon of democracy who had sacrificed herself for the people and their future. The PPP chairman said that his party was fully committed to the mission and vision of Shaheed Benazir Bhutto. Bilawal Bhutto Zardari pledged that PPP would continue its struggle where Shaheed Bibi had left and assured the people of Pakistan and PPP workers that he would follow the guidelines of Shaheed Benazir Bhutto to get rid of injustices, inequality and exploitation and for an egalitarian and welfare state of Pakistan.

 

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A memorable birthday

Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto was the voice of the people.
She had a genuinely strong relationship with her people.
It was as if her heart used to beat in the same rhythm as the heart of the masses.
She was the true keeper of national interest and this has been demonstrated by her long struggle against dictatorship.
She not only fought the forces of martial law but her voice in favour of democracy was heard as the true voice of sanity in the international political arena.
In the world she was known as the “Iron Lady” of Pakistan and in the Muslim world, she was known as the “Daughter of Islam.
” it goes to her credit that she was the first woman prime-minister of any Muslim state.

 

Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto (BB) represented the Pakistan that was beautiful and with an immense potential for development and success.
For this reason, her birthday is celebrated every year on June 21.
Both, nationally and internationally, a tribute is paid to her in ceremonies that are organised across the world to remember her great contributions for this country.
In June of 2003, BB came to visit London on a short trip.
She invited me to attend her fiftieth birthday celebrations in Dubai.
I reminded her that she was present alongside me as I cut my fiftieth birthday cake in Gulzar House.
I assured her that I would be honoured to join her in her birthday celebrations in Dubai.

A few days later, I reached Dubai through a flight on British Airways and found BB’s driver waiting for me at the airport.
I reached her residence and was warmly received by her.
I was staying at her house as a house guest.
June 21, 2003 was a remarkable and a memorable evening.
Only fifty guests were invited, perfectly suited to the occasion of a fiftieth birthday.
The guests included Pakistanis, Arabs, and other foreigners as well.
We all enjoyed food together.
The cake was customised according to the fiftieth birthday party.
BB cut the cake surrounded by the guests and as the knife went through the cake, the drawing room was filled with a melodious happy birthday song.
A unique thing about that evening was the poem that BB recited, “Story of Benazir”.
It was written by her and it beautifully described her life’s journey and struggles.
The poem was appreciated a lot and on that day BB’s poetry skills were revealed to the world.

On that day, Mr Asif Ali Zardari had sent her a bouquet made up of fifty dozen roses.
She had arranged the flowers in her drawing room and had photographs taken next to it along with her three children Bilawal, Bakhtawar, and Asifa.
She also called me in to join them and I was glad to be able to become a part of that beautiful family moment.
That memorable photograph has been published in my book “Rafaqat ka Safar”.

 

BB was very happy that evening and it was not only a memorable day for her but also for all of us who were privileged enough to join her.
Soon, I returned to London with memories that would stay with me for the rest of my life.

Today, June 21, 2017, is Mohtarma Shaheed Benazir Bhutto’s sixty-fourth birthday.
Pakistan needs a phenomenal leader like her but unfortunately she is no longer here.
Her absence is felt today more than ever before and no one can ever fill the gap left by her.
She is missed both, nationally and internationally as she represented the cause of Pakistan at all available forums.
Although she is no longer among us but she will always be with us.
She will always live in our hearts.
I believe the best and the most befitting tribute to her on her birthday would be to reiterate our commitment to BB’s vision.

Her workers should not be disheartened by her loss and should remember how much she cared about their rights.

Every time they hold on to their rights and her vision and programme, she is with them; if not in person, but certainly in spirit.

Her children, Chairman PPP Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, Bakhtawar, and Asifa are the custodians of her legacy.

They have grown up under the care of one of the best leaders in the world.

They are all well-educated and capable individuals who will continue BB’s mission of serving the people and keeping aloft the flag of PPP.

There is no doubt that Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, Bakhtwar, and Asifa will make a great team and they will live for Pakistan and for the people of Pakistan as did Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto.

The writer is Ex-Press Secretary of Benazir Bhutto and current Chairman of Bhutto Legacy Foundation.

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Remembering the lifeline of PPP, Benazir Bhutto on 64th birthday

In a society that was stuck in the morass of misogyny, where women were surrounded by strangling mediocrities, a young woman emerged as the strongest and the most powerful: Pakistan’s Benazir Bhutto. Muslim World’s first female Prime Minister, who broke all the barriers refuting the anti-woman narrative and paved way for all the female achievers, once caged in the prisons of patriarchy.

Not for the women alone, Benazir Bhutto rose as the hope to countless of the poor and destitute. A saviour to the marginalised who were subdued under dictatorship post the assassination of her father Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, Pakistan’s undisputed leader who preferred to accept gallows but didn’t bow down before usurpers – for a people’s love; for country’s honour. He continues to be eulogised decades after his assassination.

“What gift can I give you from this cell out of which my hand cannot pass? I give you the hand of the people.” – writes Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto in a birthday letter to his daughter Benazir Bhutto from his death cell on June 21, 1978.

BB was the father’s daughter. She held the people’s hand. Bhutto’s legacy as her raison d’être, she fought for democracy, for emancipation of masses till the last breathe. Inherited the prowess to woo popular support from her father, she ruled over the hearts of millions. Such deep-seated was her connection to the people that no exiles could keep them away, 1986 and 2007’s grand receptions remain unequalled in Asia’s political history. But BB’s rise to becoming Pakistan’s greatest political hope was not a piece of cake; it was a trial by fire.

In 1977 when tragedies befell Pakistan and its elected government was overthrown, BB was only 24. She was placed under house arrest as she returned home after completing her studies. Bhutto’s dismissal landed the young Benazir on a hard road and the PPP in dire straits.

Under the worst of the dictatorial regimes governed by the law of the jungle, where human rights were a fiddling little affair, BB had to fight for her father’s life and later on, for the PPP’s survival. During Shaheed Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto’s homicidal trial and after his execution, BB was faced with a lot of challenges from within and outside. She along with Begum Nusrat Bhutto was left unescorted by the powerful political elite that once enjoyed perks during Bhutto regime. To change things outside, the biggest challenge for the young Bhutto was to first put her own house in order.

Apart from breach of trust by party leaders, she had to run the gauntlet of some egocentric elders. The New York Times in 1986 quoted some of her colleagues that she refused to be treated as a mere face to the campaign, asserted her command to lead instead. And what strengthened the BB-led PPP the most was her credence in workers’ loyalty. As she fielded young loyalists on important positions, the party workers backed her, the ministers and uncles did not – nor did she care about them.

BB was told that she could not win an election, that she didn’t know the language of the people. Nevertheless, she brought all her opponents’ claims to naught. The Oxford educated proved that she might be new to the political environment but was well acquainted with her roots; that she might not speak people’s language initially but knew their music.

Within a few years, she took party to a position where people would believe that even if a pole is given the PPP ticket, it would win. To quote two big examples of transfer of power from political elite to workers: the feudal lord and spiritual leader Pir Pagara was defeated by a PPP commoner Pervaiz Ali Shah and Mumtaz Ali Bhutto, ZA Bhutto’s cousin and his former aide, lost elections to a BB’s candidate Deedar Hussain Shah, who had once served as his manager. Her art of political war was her penchant for positioning the educated young people against the mightiest.

This day marks the 64th birthday of Shaheed Benazir Bhutto. More than 9 years have passed since her assassination but the party is somehow unable to grasp biggest of the popular support, and rightly so. The juxtaposition drawn between current popularity of other parties and the PPP’s is unmerited. PPP has not only survived the assassination of its leading figures but has also arisen to eminence in the political realm every now and then. Is it possible to imagine a PMLN and a PTI without their main leaders?

Today, the hullabaloo over defections is same as 80s. Bilawal Bhutto is confronted with many challenges similar to BB’s – he is living in better times though; living in a democracy restored with his mother’s blood where no political leader has to stay in the blazing hot Sukkur jail in political vendetta like she did. Critical opprobrium against him too is on the account of his young age and his first language etc. But he has this whole legacy of his mother to follow, which provides him best of the solutions to overcome crises. Empowering workers whilst giving no fig to the desertions and committing to not let them re-enter, prioritising loyalists over turncoats, making everyone abide by party policies, instilling faith into the workers – this is the BB Shaheed’s strategy.

BB was not concerned about the political elite. In an interview she said, “all ministers who betrayed us, people who made hay while the sun was shining. I decided I didn’t want such men around me, ever.” If the picayune reneging of party members had to matter, BB would not have re-emerged after sitting in the parliament with only 17 members in 1997, nor had she sustained betrayal of infamous party leaders elected on PPP tickets landing in Musharraf’s lap in 2002.

PPP has survived everything. What this almost fifty year old party will not be able to survive is the deviation from its ideological basis and that is out of question as long as the workers remain. PPP’s power headquarters lies among its ideological workers for BB gave them this empowerment; she is the lifeline of this party. She breathed oxygen into PPP with her sacrifices. She connects the third generation of the party to the first, links Bilawal Bhutto to Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto. She is still the rescuer and what can make this party the most popular again, is the SMBB’s way of running the PPP.

BB’s son, like his mother, has the savoir faire to represent Pakistan internationally. He has inherited the same affection for masses; he too has his heart in the right place. PPP is undergoing an extensive reorganisation process under his watch and he has been personally interviewing every single candidate. With sheer commitment to mother’s cause, he is trying to connect to the masses. If the facts are not resented out of prejudice and if the history tends to repeat itself, then the party is not over yet – the party has just begun…

This snippet from SZAB’s letter to his warrior daughter should serve as the motivation for the young Chairman and all the supporters:

“I believe I still have a role to play. I believe people still want me on this stage, but if I have to bow out, I give you the gift of my feelings. You will fight the fight better than me. Your speeches will be more eloquent than my speeches. Your commitment equally total. There will be more youth and vitality in your struggle. Your deeds will be more daring. I transmit to you the blessing of the most blessed mission.” (TheDailyTimes) By Maleeha Manzoor

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PPP slams Govt’s attempt to hide debt under a new rug

Islamabad, June 15, 2017: Senator Sherry Rehman slammed the government for amending the definition of public debt without the approval of the federal cabinet. Rehman said, “The government has quietly pulled this move while public attention is on the Panama case and its investigations. To say that this is alarming is an understatement. It is unconstitutional and in direct violation of a Supreme Court judgment!”.

In 2005, the definition of public debt was, “total public debt is a sum of total outstanding borrowings”. After changing it in 2016 it became, “total public debt means the debt of the government serviced out of the Consolidated Fund and debts owed to the International Monetary Fund”. This definition does not take into account publicly guaranteed debt and public debt taken by public sector enterprises.

Voicing her concern, the Senator said, “This change in definition which the government has done twice already will cosmetically reduce public debt to Rs18.9 trillion. What makes this all the more questionable is that this amendment was not mentioned in the Finance Bill approved by the federal cabinet. This is a blatant disregard of the Supreme Court judgment which bars changing procedures without approval from the federal cabinet. Does the government have a penchant for unlawful acts?”

“The Ministry of Finance can clearly no longer contain the debt that Pakistan has accumulated as a result of their ruinous policies. The government must address these economic issues head on and present a sound way forward but the Finance Ministry opts to take populist and often misleading policy statements instead,” stated Rehman.

Rehman explained that changing the definition of public debt is yet another one of the government’s attempt to shift the red line in their favor regardless of its ethical or legal repercussions.

The Senator said, “The original definition of public debt states that it should not exceed 60% of the GDP but as of March 2017, public debt is 65.5% of the GDP. This is again open manipulation of the facts and the framework to judge what is acceptable and what is not”.

Criticizing the government’s disregard for the law, Rehman said, “The PML-N government has operated with impunity for the past four years. Their track record, especially when it comes major issues from foreign to public policy, shows up an administration with little to no respect for democratic practices”.

“PML-N is making economic history for all the wrong reasons. Throughout their term, the government has contracted crippling loans, often in the international capital markets. Other factors are also adding to this epic indebtedness of our future. The trade deficit is at a record-high at $30 billion, with no serious explanations on offer. To add to this, without any worry for the precedent they are setting, for the first time in the country’s history, the government passed the federal budget without including the opposition,” the Senator said.

As of June 2017, trade deficit widened by 42 per cent year-on-year. The National Assembly passed the Rs4.75 trillion federal budget on June 13, 2017 in the absence of the opposition.

“Pakistan is drowning in an unbelievable amount of debt and this government’s solution is to play with semantics to save face. They must understand that the public can no longer be fooled and that the PPP, which is answerable to the most vulnerable including all others, will not turn the other cheek on constitutional violations such as this,” the Vice-President of PPPP concluded.