Pakistan People’s Party Co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari has rejected reports about likely changes in the political set-up in Sindh in the wake of the recent massacre of 45 members of the Shia Ismaili community in Karachi.
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“We are not changing the Sindh chief minister,” Mr Zardari said emphatically in response to a question during an informal chat with reporters at his residence here on Monday.
The former president claimed that “the law and order situation in Sindh is better than in Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa”. He evaded a number of questions about what has been termed in some quarters a political speech made by Karachi Corps Commander Lt Gen Naveed Mukhtar at a seminar last week. “This is the style of corps commanders. They are trained in this fashion and they speak aggressively,” Mr Zardari was asked if the PPP did not consider the speech interference in political and administrative matters. “It is only their way of thinking,” he said. The PPP co-chairman said former army chief Pervez Musharraf still believed that the Kargil operation was a “victory”, but no-one in the world, no military expert, could call it a “victory”. The corps commander had termed the problems in Karachi “a result of political, sectarian and ethnic rivalries” and called for freeing the police and other departments of political influence. He also emphasised the importance to merit and accountability. Accompanied by former prime ministers Yousuf Raza Gilani and Raja Pervez Ashraf, the former president dispelled a perception that the army was gradually encroaching upon civilian domains in the name of operation against militants and criminals.
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“We ourselves have called the army and Rangers in aid of the civilian set-up. All political forces have collectively asked the army to carry out the operation,” he said. Mr Zardari brushed aside rumours about imposition of governor’s rule in Sindh. The governor’s rule, he said, could no more be easily imposed after the passage of the 18th Amendment. It can be enforced only for a limited time and also required a parliamentary approval. The PPP had always opposed undemocratic moves and it would continue to do so, he added.
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The PPP leader said elections were the best way to judge popularity of political parties. There was a lot of criticism of the previous Sindh government which also was headed by Qaim Ali Shah, but the PPP achieved better results in the 2013 elections and again formed the government. He said the security situation was really bad in KP and people had started leaving Peshawar and moving to Islamabad and other areas, but Karachi continued to be bustling city it had always been despite a number of major terrorist attacks.
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Mr Zardari said previously there was the ‘Daku Raj’ in Sindh, but “now there is peace”. On the controversy over the route of Pakistan-China Economic Corridor, the former president said if China had no objection to any change in the route, others should also have no objection. He expressed the hope that he would manage to develop a consensus on the matter. He said that his son Bilawal would soon return to the country to lead the party, but did not give any specific date. Answering a question, he said it appeared that former Sindh home minister Dr Zulfikar Mirza was being used against the PPP by some sections. “No individual can oppose (the party) in such a manner. Someone is certainly behind him.”