KARACHI/ISLAMABAD - PPP leader Asif Zardari has directed party leadership to oppose the extension of military courts in the upcoming session of National Assembly, The Nation learnt here on Thursday.

Pakistan People’s Party-Parliamentarian (PPP-P) President Asif Ali Zardari reportedly gave this direction to Khursheed Shah, who is Leader of Opposition in National Assembly.

Bilawal House spokesperson said that a meeting was held Wednesday night in which both the leaders discussed various issues.

Party sources revealed that Zardari has directed the party to take a hard stance against the military courts during the joint session of parliament on January 17.

He has also directed the party leaders to raise the voice inside and outside the parliament against the withdrawal of subsidiary on the fertilisers, they added. On the issue of the election reforms, the president has instructed PPPP to consult other opposition parties.

In the meeting, it was also decided that Dr Azra Afzal and Ayaz Soomro would submit resignation upon their returning to the country to National Assembly Speaker Ayaz Sadiq.

Azra is PPP lawmaker from NA-213 (Nawabshah) whereas Soomro is party MNA from NA-204 (Larkana).

On December 27, both the party legislators presented their resignation to the party as Zardari announced to contest election along with his son, PPP chairman Bilwal Bhutto Zardari, to enter the parliament.

Meanwhile in a statement issued in Islamabad on Thursday, Asif Zardari has said that the package announced by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif for the textile sector was “too little and too late”.

Zardari said that during the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz tenure, Pakistan had long lost its hard-earned competitiveness, which had previously been achieved through the “industry-friendly policies” of the Pakistan People’s Party.

“Pakistan textile exports had peaked during his tenure to 13.4 percent of the GDP, and have sharply declined to only 7.8 percent of the GDP during 2016,: he said reminding also that while other countries have been incentivizing exports to take away Pakistan’s share in the global markets the Pakistan government had miserable failed to   respond in time.

Zardari also severely condemned government’s decision to withdraw subsidy on fertilisers terming it “a callous and inhuman decision and a conspiracy against the poor and the underprivileged rural population”.

“This decision will not only severely affect the agriculture sector but also drastically increase the poverty level in rural areas,” he said.

The former president warned that the decision that it will only compensate the farmers of the Punjab province will destroy the interprovincial harmony.

He said that only to achieve some cheap political mileage the Nawaz government had on the one-hand withdrawn a subsidy of Rs400 per bag on fertilizer and was secretly compensating farmers of their own political constituency on the other.

“The federal government was playing with fire as such measures will create provincial rifts and disharmony,” he warned. “It will create a sense of deprivation amongst the people of other three provinces with far-reaching consequences.”

Zardari demanded that the decision of withdrawing subsidy should be immediately reversed.

“The news came as a big surprise for most in the agriculture sector as they were not expecting that the government, under foreign pressure, will go as far as to harm the backbone of the national economy. As a result of the withdrawal of this scheme the share of the agriculture sector in the national economy and its capacity to drive growth and development in the country will drastically diminish and soon,” he said.

Zardari noted agriculture experts point out that the upcoming crops of sugarcane and maize will be critically affected by this “thoughtless decision”.

Meanwhile, Zardari expressed grief over the death of Muhammad Nadeem Arain, the father-in-law of PPP Senator Sehar Kamran, last week.

In a condolence message, Zardari said that he was grieved to learn about the death of Sehar Kamran’s father in law.