Amidst continuing tensions between Pakistan’s government and the powerful army over the memo scandal, President Asif Ali Zardari has said that no one had sought his resignation to defuse the political crisis, making light of suggestions that the military had offered him an “escape” route.
“No one has asked for my resignation till now, I’ll tell you when they ask for it,” Mr. Zardari said in his first interview after Pakistani-American businessman Mansoor Ijaz made public the alleged memo that had sought US help to stave off a possible coup in Pakistan.
“I don’t think anyone in Pakistan is so innocent that he will ask for my resignation,” the President said in the interview with Geo News channel.
“What will they do with my resignation? I have given my powers to parliament. Who will take them back from parliament?” he asked.
Mr. Zardari’s remarks came against the backdrop of widespread speculation that the army was pressuring him to quit over the alleged memo.
Ijaz has claimed that he drafted and delivered the memo to the then U.S. military chief in May last year at the behest of Husain Haqqani, Pakistan’s former envoy to the U.S., and Mr. Zardari.
The government has denied Ijaz’s accusations, saying Mr. Zardari had played no role in the memo issue.
Mr. Zardari laughed off suggestions that the army had offered him an “escape” route by seeking his resignation. “Escape not an option? Why should it be?” he said.
Asked about Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani’s remarks that the memo was a mere piece of paper, Mr. Zardari said he believed the matter had been given “unnecessary publicity”.
Though the Supreme Court and the Parliamentary Committee on National Security were both investigating the memo issue, he said he would accept the parliamentary panel’s decision.
“In my view, parliament is sovereign to all bodies,” he said.
He contended that the memo was part of a conspiracy against the country.
“We are playing into the hands of those who want to harm Pakistan and eventually it will harm Pakistan,” he said.
Mr. Zardari’s remarks about accepting the decision of the parliamentary panel could spark a fresh confrontation with the Supreme Court, as Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry has indicated that the court is the right body to conduct a probe into the memo issue.