In NA session, Zardari urges PM Shehbaz to hold talks with opposition

“We cannot afford any odd situation now," ex-president says; urges opposition to call on PM

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PPP Co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari speaks during a National Assembly session in Islamabad, on April 10, 2023, in this still taken from a video. — YouTube/PTVParliament
PPP Co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari speaks during a National Assembly session in Islamabad, on April 10, 2023, in this still taken from a video. — YouTube/PTVParliament

  • Asif Zardari says nation cannot "afford any odd situation now".
  • PPP co-chairman urges opposition to approach PM Shehbaz.
  • "PTI is now approaching us for dialogue," former president says.

Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari — whose party is a crucial ally in the federal government — Monday suggested Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif hold talks with the opposition party, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI).

The development comes as the political temperature in the country is on the rise and the government has locked horns with the Supreme Court, which will likely intensify the situation in the days to come.

In such a situation, PPP’s core committee last week resolved to approach all parties in the coalition government to discuss the issue of dialogue among the political parties, including the PTI.

PTI Senior Vice-President Fawad Chaudhry applauded the PPP's move to hold dialogue with the political parties as the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam Fazl (JUI-F) rejected the idea.

“PPP refused to become part of a campaign against the judiciary. Secondly, PPP said that political parties don’t end the way of dialogue,” Fawad said last week during a press conference.

In his speech during the National Constitutional Convention in the National Assembly, Zardari — in the presence of PM Shehbaz — said the prime minister has the authority for holding dialogues with the opposition.

"But, I will request Shehbaz Sharif to hold talks with the opposition and set no conditions before they begin talks. I will also ask the opposition to call on Shehbaz for talks as he is the prime minister."

“We cannot afford any odd situation now. The PTI is now approaching us for dialogue, but its chief wants such decisions which are in his favour,” the ex-president said.

He claimed that the PTI was paying Rs 30,000 each to its workers and said he knew about its sources of funding.

The PTI, he said, had hired political workers, social media activists and journalists to continue its propaganda against the country and institutions.

'Institutions should work in their constitutional ambit'

For his part during the session, Minister for Foreign Affairs Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, while underlining the need for unity among political and democratic forces, said all institutions should work in their constitutional ambit to bring Pakistan out of various problems including economic, inflation, unemployment and terrorism being confronted by the country.

The foreign minister said the undemocratic forces always took advantage of differences among the politicians and political parties in the past.

"It is the right time to forge unity and work jointly for political and economic stability in the country," he added.

The minister said the National Security Committee in its meeting has decided to launch operations against terrorists and defeated them again like in the past.

He said the 1973 constitution which was unanimously passed by this august house and kept intact all the provinces of the country.

He said April 10 was a historical day and this day should be a part of the syllabus to teach in schools to the new generation about the importance of the constitutional day like August 14, 1947.

"It was a historical day as the country got its unanimous constitution on April 10, 1974," he added. He said April 10 was the foundation day of our 50 years of political struggle.

Moving on, the minister said there were some judges who always rejected dictatorship and gave their dissenting notes against the undemocratic step.

However, he regretted that some judges — who were bound to defend the constitution — supported the dictator and announced decisions against the prime ministers.

He requested Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial to sit with his brother judges and sort out differences to uphold the integrity and dignity of the court in the eyes of the people.

He expressed confidence that the consensus of the apex court would withstand any conspiracy to subvert the Constitution.

The minister said the incumbent finance minister was making strides to foil PTI Chairman Imran Khan's attack on the economy.

"Imran Khan had imposed the economic and security crises on the country merely for protecting his rule," he added.

— Additional input from APP