Zardari got news of by-polls from TV -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

Zardari got news of by-polls from TV

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Co-chairman Asif Zardari came to know about the postponement of the by-elections through private TV channels, his aides said.

“I was sitting with Zardari at his residence, discussing general things, when we learnt through the news bars of TV channels that the by-polls had been put off for a considerable time. We were surprised, if not shocked,” Faisal Butt, a friend of Zardari, told The News.

Then, he said, Bhai Saheb phoned his sister Faryal Talpur in Sindh to inform what had happened. He told her not to worry as the election postponement would be reversed because it did not suit any coalition partner or other political parties.

A week back, Faryal quit as the district Nazim of Zardari’s native city of Nawabshah to contest from the traditional Bhutto seat of Larkana (NA 207) and was all set to file her nomination papers when the news of the election readjustment broke.

Assassinated Benazir Bhutto, according to Zardari, had named Faryal as the guardian of their three children, Bilawal, Asifa and Bakhtawar. “Had we known the election deferment was masterminded as alleged by some people with a motive, we would not have asked Faryal Bibi to step down as Nazim,” Zardari aide Dr Soomro told this correspondent.

Faisal Butt said after hearing the news about the polls rescheduling, Zardari also phoned Rehman Malik, Adviser to the Prime Minister, to know what prompted it. The PPP chief was not immediately satisfied over Malik’s explanation.

Asked why no action was promptly taken against Malik for the huge embarrassment caused to the government to tell all and sundry that the PPP had no hand in the by-polls readjustment, Zardariís aides said no doubt it was a colossal mistake but it was not of such a nature that the adviser should have been instantly fired.

However, they said that action would undoubtedly be taken against Malik if he was found involved in any such thing in future. But they took pains to assert that the PPP or Zardari was not involved in the election postponement in any way.

They were conscious of the fact that people were talking about Zardari’s involvement and that fingers were being pointed at the presidency as well. They realised that the development put the government in a tight spot and the ruling coalition under strain.

These aides said in the recent party meetings, Zardari continuously urged its candidates not to take the by-polls easily but asked them to put in their maximum efforts and hard work to win the exercise.

In the meantime, it was learnt that Interior Secretary Syed Kamal Shah, who after retirement on reaching the age of superannuation, is serving on extension, may be shown the door for the by-elections fiasco.

However, others say the revocation of his extension would amount to making a scapegoat just to spare Rehman Malik, on whose order Shah had acted and talked to the NWFP government on the issue of rescheduling of the election.
Source: The News
Date:5/8/2008