LAHORE - Former Punjab Governor Punjab Makhdoom Ahmad Mehmood yesterday branded all mainstream political parties including the PMLN and the PTI as predominantly conservative responsible for rise of extremism in Pakistan.

“The extremist ideologies pursued by these parties are the main reason behind the rise of fundamentalism and extremism in the country,” he said while addressing a cake cutting ceremony held at Bilawal House, Lahore to mark 61st birthday of PPP chief Asif Ali Zardari.

Makhdoom asserted that PPP was the only political party in Pakistan which preached religious tolerance and had history of struggle for the rights of women, minorities, labour class and peasantry.  The politician from south Punjab also cast aspersion on Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s ability to deal with national and international issues, saying that he (the PM) did not have the vision and capacity to do so.

Talking about the PTI chief Imran Khan, the PPP leader said that he was a celebrity and will remain so in future also. “He is a star but will never be able to become a politician”.

Understandably, Makhdoom was all praise for his leader Asif Ali Zardari and termed him a must for global acceptability of Pakistan as a tolerant nation.

He said that national and international political intelligentsia had already accepted Asif Ali Zardari as the most intelligent politician in Pakistan and it was high time he should be given a major role to pull the country out of the crises.

This birthday event was organised by Bashir Riaz, senior adviser to Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and coordinator Bilawal House Lahore Mr Aurangzeb Barki. Member Punjab Assembly Faiza Malik, Abdul Qadir Shaheen, Faisal Mir, Naveed Choudhary, Aslam Gill, Mian Khalid Saeed, Aqib Sarwar, Mian Ayub, Ashraf Khan and a good number of PPP workers were also present.

Ahmed Mehmood pleaded that Asif Ali Zardari was the first person who challenged the extremists and it was the PPP government which took back Swat from Taliban by launching military operation. He also lauded the stance taken by Bilawal Bhutto Zardari against terrorism. “He was the one who took clear stand against terrorism and today almost entire national action plan was what Bilawal had been campaigning for in his speeches”.

Criticising the print and electronic media, Makhdoom said: “It is not "Pakistani Media" but a "Punjabi Media". He believed that media coverage of Sindhi,Balochi and Pathan politicians was either negative or no coverage was given to them at all. He alleged that entire media, knowingly and intentionally, did not highlight the shortcomings of political establishment of Nawaz Sharif in Punjab with ulterior motives.