No handshake please, Zardari tells Sharif

ISLAMABAD – Former President Asif Ali Zardari has politely refused to ‘shake hands’ with ousted premier Nawaz Sharif, close aides said Thursday.

Zardari however, is still considering Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi’s request for a meeting or a telephonic contact on the issue of the fresh delimitations of the constituencies before the 2018 polls.

This week, Nawaz Sharif said he was ready to ‘shake hands’ with Zardari for the sake of democracy as he attacked Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf Chief Imran Khan.

Zardari’s close aides told The Nation that the Pakistan People’s Party Co-Chairman was ‘least interested’ in meeting Nawaz Sharif whom he holds responsible for the political crisis.

“Asif Ali Zardari has told us (the party leaders) that there will be no such meeting. Contact with PM Abbasi is still possible,” said a senior PPP leader.

He added: “Nawaz Sharif should forget a meeting with Zardari. He is the same Nawaz Sharif who declined a meeting with Zardari when he was in trouble.”

A day earlier, PPP’s opposition leader in the National Assembly Khurshid Shah said PM Abbasi had asked him to arrange his meeting with Zardari or Bilawal Bhutto Zardari to seek PPP’s support for the Bill on the delimitations in the Senate.

The ruling Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) does not enjoy a majority in the Senate – leaving it at the mercy of the PPP-led opposition bloc to pass the Bill.

The PML-N needs at least 69 votes in the Senate to get the constitutional amendment Bill 2017 approved seeking fresh delimitation of constituencies in line with the provisional results of the latest census for the general elections due next year.

Under the new delimitation of constituencies, Punjab’s share in the National Assembly will decrease by nine seats, while Islamabad will get one more seat. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa will get five more seats and three seats will be added for Balochistan. NA seats for Sindh and the Federally Administrated Tribal Areas will remain the same.

PPP leaders said Zardari was not ready to meet Sharif as he believes the PML-N chief had betrayed him on a number of occasions.

Meanwhile yesterday, PPP Secretary General Nayyar Hussain Bokhari said that there was a vast difference between the leadership of PPP and the PML-N.

He said Zardari strengthened democracy and the parliament and gave powers to the federating units. “Parliament became the centre of politics. Nawaz Sharif has used the parliament to promote and safeguard his family’s interests. Now he has made parliament into a laughing stock,” the PPP leader said in a statement.

Bokhari said Nawaz Sharif was trying to take help from the examples of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and Benazir Bhutto but “does not remember his violations of Charter of Democracy.”

“He left the Alliance for Restoration of Democracy and formed All Parties Democratic Movement at a time when CoD was most relevant,” he added.

Bokhari said that PML-N members were annoyed by Nawaz Sharif’s policies and raising voices against PML-N stance on different issues.

He said that PPP workers knew very well to defend democracy and were ready to offer sacrifices. “Nawaz Sharif is making noises to protect his family and not the democracy,” he contended.

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