NEW YORK: Former president and Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari has said former petroleum minister and his close aide, Dr Asim Hussain, who is facing legal action on charges of terrorism and corruption is like “an innocent rabbit afraid of his own shadow.”

In an interview with a private TV channel today, Zardari said ‘Asim is incapable of corruption’ let alone facilitating or providing medical help to terrorists.

“Asim is a childhood friend and my family doctor. He is the grandson of Dr Ziauddin, and comes from a family that helped create Pakistan,” said the former president.

Defending the former minister, he said Dr Asim is a progressive individual who “did not need to provide medical help to criminals.”

He also denied allegations of his party’s links with Lyari gang war leader Uzair Baloch.

“It was the PPP government which initiated action against Uzair, filed cases and issued red warrants against him.”

Zardari clarified that his hard hitting speech at a PPP event last year, which made waves because it was seen as a threat to the establishment, was not against the army.

“Maybe these statements were not explained but I never meant to antagonize our institutions or give strength to the Taliban.”

‘I bought these powers for them’

He claimed that after the APS massacre, the PPP, with its strength in the upper house, played a key role in transferring power to the establishment.

“If we had not passed it [21st constitutional amendment] there were many political forces on the table that were against it.”

Rejecting speculation that he had left Pakistan in the wake of tensions with the establishment following his fiery rhetoric, Zardari said he was not one to flee out of fear.

“I spent 12 out of 27 years of my political career in jail, which means almost one out of every two days in my political career I was behind bars. Why did I do this?

“To bring back democracy, we fought a dictator and made him [Musharraf] walk out,” said the PPP chief.

Explaining his absence from the country’s political scene, Zardari said:

“I have a whole history of issues [medical]. I never got the opportunity to get these problems fixed.”

He rolled up his sleeve and showed injection marks on his arm to the camera.

“I have problems with my eyes and nose, I’m getting old as well.”

Answering a question about his possible return, he asserted that he will come back to Pakistan and 'does not wish to be buried in New York city'.

’Did everything for democracy’

During his five years at the helm, Zardari claimed there was not a single allegation or scandal about him.

As president, he said he voluntarily surrendered his powers and passed them on to the premier, making the publicly elected representative the chief executive of the country.

‘PML-N responsible for PPP arrests’

Zardari held PML-N responsible for harassing PPP sympathisers and workers but made clear his party will not join any sit-in or movement to derail democracy.

“I was a victim of state torture, my tongue was cut, I still have marks on my neck. Who did this to me? But I still stood with Mian Nawaz Sharif for democracy,” he added.

He said he had worked with almost all politicians of Pakistan for the “sake of democracy.”

“Some sections are still ready to start a dharna but we will not join them.”

"I worked with everyone except Imran Khan . When Imran becomes a politician I will work with him,” japed Zardari.