Zardari vows to 'fight back' SC verdict

Zardari vows to 'fight back' SC verdict

Asif Ali Zardari

The beleaguered President made a vow "to fight back" while chairing a meeting of the PPP's central executive committee to review the fallout of the apex court's decision to strike down the National Reconciliation Ordinance.

The PPP "reposed full confidence" in Zardari's leadership and "vowed to rally around him at a time when he is the target of criticism and political attacks from all around and to put up a fierce fight in his defence", Presidential spokesman Farhatullah Babar said.

The party also decided that federal ministers facing graft charges following the scrapping of the NRO by the apex court on Wednesday would defend themselves in court instead of resigning.

Zardari said the PPP "will not be blackmailed into asking its ministers to resign merely on the basis of accusations against them".

None of the accusations had been proved and there is no reason for anyone to resign "until proved guilty of wrong doing", he said.

The PPP decided on its strategy to tackle the political crisis confronting the government during the marathon meeting of its top leadership, which began in the afternoon and continued till late in the night.

Briefing the media on the meeting, senior party leader Jahangir Badr, a close aide of Zardari, said: "The PPP is united on co-chairman Zardari's leadership and reposes complete confidence in him.

"We respect the (apex) court's verdict but the cases (that are being reopened) were filed as part of political revenge during (former military ruler Pervez) Musharraf's regime because the PPP did not accept him. We faced these cases in the past and will face them again," Badr said.

Responding to questions on demands from the opposition for Zardari to resign and the possible removal of the PPP-led federal government, Badr said: "The geo-political situation in Pakistan makes it very clear that anything other than democracy will lead to anarchy and chaos."

Zardari said the PPP would "use democracy and constitutionalism as its weapons to fight it adversaries and foil all conspiracies" against the party.

Despite the hurdles put in its way, the PPP will continue "to strengthen democracy... and will not be deterred by conspiracies against it", he said.

He said he "foresaw many more conspiracies and onslaughts against the PPP and added that none of the conspiracies will be allowed to succeed".

Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and senior party leaders like Aitzaz Ahsan, Raza Rabbani, Defence Minister Chaudhry Ahmed Mukhtar and Safdar Abbasi attended the meeting.

Ahsan, one of Pakistan's leading lawyers, briefed the PPP leaders on the fallout of the apex court's verdict.

Zardari and the PPP-led government are facing their worst political crisis since coming to power last year due to the Supreme Court's annulment of the NRO, which scrapped graft cases against over 8,000 people.

The President and several close allies, including Defence Minister Mukhtar and Interior Minister Rehman Malik, benefited from the NRO.

The apex court’s ruling came at a time when Zardari’s popularity ratings have hit rock bottom.

An anti-corruption court in Karachi has summoned Malik to appear before it next month while the Defence Minister was barred from on an official visit to China due to the reopening of a corruption probe against him.

Zardari's aides have said the constitution grants him immunity from prosecution by virtue of holding the post of President.

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