Zardari's U-turn leaves his media team speechless -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

Zardari’s U-turn leaves his media team speechless

ISLAMBAD: PPP Co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari’s dramatic announcement to scrap dozens of corruption references which the PPP had filed with NAB against ministers, military officers and bureaucrats during the Pervez Musharraf regime has made his media team speechless.

Many of the media gurus are avoiding calls from journalists on these specific questions.

Zardari made this shocking announcement in his recent interaction with journalists, which greatly went unnoticed because of other important political developments taking place within the four walls of the Zardari House.

This U-turn on the issue is said to have negatively impacted the media team of PPP, as even Farhatullah Babar, who effectively played the role of spokesman for 12 long years, was ignoring the calls of journalists, as he had little idea how to respond to such embarrassing questions.

The shocking message of Asif Zardari conveyed to the Islamabad-based journalists last week at the Zardari House was very clear: The PPP would not pursue the corruption cases it had submitted to NAB on the instructions of Benazir Bhutto during the last eight years. Babar is greatly puzzled as he himself prepared many of these references.

The corruption references were submitted by the Media Cell of PPP headed by Farhatullah Babar in high-profile press conferences with tall claims of holding accountable all the corrupt elements within the previous governments led by General Pervez Musharraf.

These references were mostly developed on the investigative and hard-hitting stories of newspapers, foreign websites and journals and were posted on the website of the PPP.

These references were later published in a booklet form and distributed among journalists and other sections of the society. Top leaders of PPP were invited to launch the references in these press conferences. These references were launched to counter the impact of corruption references against Benazir Bhutto and Asif Zardari and other top leaders of the party like Yousuf Raza Gillani who were put in jail on charges of corrupt practices.

These references were never taken seriously by NAB and were dumped. But, as a counter attack, the PPP put them on its website with the commitment to re-open the investigations, as and when it came to power. Till recently, the PPP held this view that sitting ministers, generals and bureaucrats had committed corruption and would not be spared.

But now Zardari has announced to scrap all those cases in the name of his new-found love for “reconciliation”. This reconciliation slogan has come amid scrapping of corruption cases against Asif Zardari from NAB courts under the NRO.

In this background, Farhatullah Babar has adopted a new strategy to duck the whole issue as he has stopped taking calls of journalists.

This correspondent made three calls on different days to get his point of view. First he attended the telephone call and without allowing this correspondent to even say hello, said: “Rauf, I am busy and would get back to you.” He never returned the call.

The next day, this correspondent once again called. Babar again attended the call and without allowing this correspondent to say hello, said: “Rauf, I am busy and would return your call.” Once again, this call never came.

This correspondent did not lose heart and the next day once again made a call. Babar used the same trick as he did not allow this correspondent to say hello and said: “Rauf I am busy and would call you back.” With these words, he switched off his mobile.

This strange attitude of Babar has surprised many as he was widely respected in the media circles for his quick replies, return calls besides matching replies to many tough questions and stories against his party. Babar has always been available to offer his comments in all these eight years.

This indifferent attitude on the part of Babar is said to have added the load on the shoulders of Sherry Rehman, who was trying her best to address the regular queries of journalists on all sorts of issues.
Source: The News