After SC blow, Zardari digs his heels in

After SC blow, Zardari digs his heels in

Asif Ali Zardari. AFPZardari, the chief of ruling Pakistan People’s Party, said he was ready to “face all the challenges” created by the apex court’s verdict in the same way as PPP founder Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto and his daughter, slain former premier Benazir Bhutto, had tackled crisis.

The beleaguered president told a delegation of journalists from the Hyderabad Press Club during a meeting in the presidency that he wanted to avoid any political confrontation as it could be harmful for Pakistan.

He said he wanted to save Pakistan “from turning into another Afghanistan.”
His comments came a day after the Supreme Court struck down the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO), a law issued by former president Pervez Musharraf that was used by authorities to scrap graft cases against over 8,000 people, including Zardari and several of his close aides.   
 
Asked about the current situation, Zardari said he was making efforts to “change attitudes.”

He also said he had avoided the NRO issue at the Supreme Court so that “contradiction among political parties could be avoided.”

Zardari described as “uncalled for” government lawyer Kamal Azfar’s controversial statement in the apex court that the democratic system faced a threat from the US Central Intelligence Agency and Pakistan Army’s General Headquarters. 
  
The apex court’s ruling has opened the way for the prosecution of Zardari’s allies who were covered under the NRO, including Interior Minister Rehman Malik and Defence Minister Chaudhry Ahmed Mukhtar.

The government has said the president is protected from prosecution under the constitution. The Supreme court verdict was on Thursday hailed by political parties and the media as a verdict that corrected “a shameful historic wrong”.|The headline on the front page of The News daily read “SC corrects historic wrong” while The Daily Times put it more succinctly — “Justice is served”.

Editorials in leading dailies hailed the verdict as a major blow against corruption, an issue that has dogged Pakistani politics for decades. In an editorial titled ‘Judgement Day’, The News said: “The judgement may have been late but it is a worthy one.”Political parties and most Pakistanis too welcomed the decision.

Opposition PML-N spokesman Siddique-ul-Farooq said the court had decided in light of the constitution while Awami National Party leader Haji Mohammad Adeel said the verdict was expected as the government and Musharraf’s aides chose not to defend the NRO.
Opposition PML-Q leader Salim Saifullah said Zardari should resign on moral grounds.

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