ISLAMABAD -  Former president Asif Ali Zardari on Wednesday regretted that on Pakistan Day the nation was surrendering judicial space to the military courts because of the breakdown of criminal justice system.

In a message to the nation on Pakistan Day, to be celebrated today (March 23), he said: “Let us pledge on this occasion to fix the criminal justice system at the earliest.”

He added: “A great threat to our ideals is also posed by the extremists who exploit the name of religion to impose their obscurantist, regressive, anti-women and anti-non Muslims agenda on the people. We pledge to fight them to the finish.”

Zardari said the August 11, 1947 speech of Quaid-i-Azam Mohammed Ali Jinnah before the Constituent Assembly was the guiding principle of the state. He said that more than any other consideration, “We should strive to be driven by the consideration of egalitarianism, the welfare of the people regardless of their caste, creed and religion in the Pakistan of our dreams.”

Zardari added: “We should rededicate ourselves to the ideals of democracy, rule of law and welfare of the people - principles that lay at the heart of the demand for Pakistan.”

In an interview with Geo TV, Zardari said Pakistan’s former US ambassador Husain Haqqani did not have the authority to issue visas to Americans nor did he ever say anything of that kind.

Zardari said Haqqani didn’t even have the right in American Embassy to issues visas [to anyone]. “I don’t think Husain has said this, he didn’t even have the right in American Embassy to issue visas [to anyone]. There are a lot more people in US Embassy other than the ambassador who scramble through the important visas.”

Zardari also said, “I would never meet Haqqani nor would plan to meet during my visits to Washington.”

“Haqqani lives in another world altogether these days. There is a lot of difference in the way we think now,” the PPP leader said.

“I don’t agree with what Haqqani has written about Pakistan in his book. Haqqani considers himself Washington’s philosopher and lobbyists, there are some people who make friends in US while making anti-Pakistani statements, said Zardari, adding “Haqqani thinks he is very smart.”

When Haqqani was made the ambassador the president of the country was Pervez Musharraf.

The former president warned the government that it doesn’t take too long for time to change. “I am threatening the government and its minister. I am also threatening the man whose hair is never ruined,” he said. “It is possible that you will fall down on my feet like Saif-ur-Rehman.”

“How dare the National Accountability Bureau chief file a case against me? What position does he have?” he claimed.  

“They do injustice but forget it doesn’t take long for time to change. They try their best but I don’t feel threatened,” he said.  

“Even after rejecting the results of election, we supported democracy,” he said. “If I didn’t take the oath then someone else would have come, and with that person you would have not been able to democracy work.”

Sharing his future plans, he said Bilawal and I will go to this parliament. For a political hunt it is necessary to go the politicians’ nest.”

“No politician can open an account in any other country except Nawaz Sharif,” he said, adding “I am also waiting for the verdict on Panama case.”

When asked about Swiss Bank account, he said if there is money in Swiss Bank it belongs to foreigners and not Pakistanis.” I don’t have money in Swiss Bank,” he claimed.

Speaking about relationship with US, he said “I don’t want entry in US, I want trade relationship.”

The PPP co-chairperson also mentioned military courts. “Military courts were also established for two years previously,” he said, adding “our advice on military courts was disliked by few of our friends.”

Zardari accused Sheikh Rasheed of lacking loyalty. Speaking about Ayyan Ali’s case, he remarked Latif Khosa took the case and got a chance. The case is another way to defame me, Zardari said, adding “I am in no way involved in this issue.”

When asked whether the PPP would concede appointing Haqqani was a ‘wrong decision’, Zardari said, “The time when I was president, Musharraf was here. So I called Durrani back and sent Haqqani there. He did what I needed him to do at that time.”

“It was the decision of the parliament at the time. It was the decision of the establishment at the time,” said Zardari when asked why the PPP government never made the Abbottabad Commission report public.

“It was not in the interest of the country to make the report public,” he further said, adding if the current government deems it favourable, it should move forward with publishing the report.

When the host asked about the report being leaked, the former president conceded and said that those who prepare the reports are “after all, humans”.



Our Staff Reporter/Monitoring Desk