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Updated: December 17, 2009 20:15 IST

Zardari says ready to face all challenges

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Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari
Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari

Declaring that he is ready to face “all challenges” in the wake of the Supreme Court’s annulment of an amnesty granted to him in graft cases, President Asif Ali Zardari today warned that any political confrontation at this stage would be harmful for Pakistan.

Zardari, the chief of the ruling Pakistan People’s Party, said he is 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 the crises.

The beleaguered President told a delegation of journalists from the Hyderabad Press Club that he wants to avoid any political confrontation as it could be harmful for Pakistan.

He said he wants to save Pakistan “from turning into another Afghanistan.”

The President’s comments came a day after the Supreme Court struck down the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO), a law issued by former military ruler Pervez Musharraf that was used by authorities to scrap graft cases against over 8,000 people, including Zardari and several of his close aides.

The reporters who met Zardari said he was reluctant to answer questions about the situation created by the apex court’s verdict.

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 President gave the reporters no indication about his future course of action.

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.

Meanwhile, London-based MQM chief Altaf Hussain, who too benefitted from the NRO, telephoned Zardari today to discuss the political situation and the fallout of the apex court’s verdict.

Both leaders said they would face all cases that would be reopened by authorities through “legal and constitutional” means.

Hussain said he respected the court’s ruling and was ready to face trial in court.

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