PPP goes into damage-control mode

Source:  AFP Published in Politics on Friday, June 19, 2015

ISLAMABAD: In what appeared to be a turn towards damage control-mode, the PPP made overtures on Thursday to reach out to the country’s political leadership following an outburst by Co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari, who took army generals to task on Tuesday for allegedly interfering in matters outside their constitutional ambit.

In a press conference on Thursday, former information minister Qamar Zaman Kaira said that only one portion of Mr Zardari’s speech had been blown out of proportion, insisting that the former president had only asked that national institutions remain within their constitutional parameters.

He said that Mr Zardari had appreciated Operation Zarb-i-Azb in his speech, which was not highlighted.

“Ayub, Zia, Yahya and Musharraf are the faces of tyranny that have harmed Pakistan the most,” he said, adding that a former general had recently admitted to propping up the IJI and distributing money among politicians to unseat the PPP.

Invites political leaders to Iftar-dinner; Zardari and Altaf Hussain vow to end differences

“Certain quarters wish to see a clash between PPP and national institutions. When we were in power, these same people were clamouring for Musharraf to be sent away, but we avoided confrontation,” he said.

“Words can sometimes sound harsh, but this should not be taken negatively,” he said.

Demanding that the provincial government be left to run its own affairs, he asked whether Sindh’s was the only administration that was corrupt. “Even the anti-corruption apparatus is itself corrupt,” he mused.

Following the press conference, PPP leaders began reaching out to the leadership of different parties, inviting them to an iftar-dinner at Zardari House on Friday.

On Thursday evening, there was some confusion over whether this invitation was for an all-party conference (APC), but PPP spokesperson Farhatullah Babar confirmed that it would be an Iftar-dinner.

“We have invited almost all mainstream political parties, including the ruling PML-N and the PTI,” Senator Qayyum Soomro told Dawn on Thursday.

Asked if the PPP had received confirmations from the two parties, the senator said: “We have just sent them invitations and they will definitely take some time to respond.”

Mr Babar, the party spokesperson, confirmed that PML-Q, MQM and JUI-F had confirmed their attendance.

However, sources suggested that the PTI was reluctant to attend the PPP event because it wanted to distance itself from Mr Zardari’s outburst. The PML-N may also not attend owing to similar concerns. The PM is already said to have cancelled one meeting with Mr Zardari on Wednesday for similar reasons.

Separately, MQM chief Altaf Hussain called Mr Zardari and had a long chat with him on Thursday as well. The two vowed to shun their differences to stave off common challenges.

An official MQM statement said both leaders talked about the changing situation at the international level, as well as the start of a new cold war between the US and Russia and insurgencies in different countries of the world.

Later, the MQM chief telephoned former prime minister Raja Pervez Ashraf as well.

“Mr Ashraf said that rumours about him leaving the PPP were not true,” an MQM spokesman said.

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