ISI needs to be bridled: Zardari

Says he is not interested in action against Musharraf

Calls Iftikhar a politicised figure

 Coalition will remain strong


WASHINGTON: PPP Co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari has said that he believes that ISI should be in the control of the government because it is the part and parcel of a state administration. He said ISI was not involved in the suicide bombing on the Indian Embassy in Kabul. He further said that army would not play any role in the political matters.

He said he was personally in favour of reinstatement of Justice Iftikhar Choudhry but said many in PPP think that during the last one year Iftikhar had become a political figure by taking part in political rallies.

In an interview with Newsweek’s Lally Weymouth, a leading US magazine, Asif Ali Zardari said the president should not have the power to dissolve the National Assembly and that the role of head of state should be ‘more ceremonial’.

He said he was not interested in taking any action against former president Pervez Musharraf, adding his fate would be decided by the parliament.

“I don’t blame Musharraf for assassination of Benazir Bhutto. The former president can live in Pakistan. It is my desire that Musharraf should live in the country and see it on the path to development. This will be revenge of Benazir Bhutto’s murder,” he said.

To a question, he said the new president could exercise his powers to grant indemnity to the former president.

In the wake of ouster of Musharraf, there will be no change in US, Pakistan relations, he observed and added Washington had decided to side with democracy after undergoing a bitter experience of working with the former president.

ISI was not involved in Kabul bomb blasts, he said. He hoped the ruling coalition would remain strong during the next five years.

Later, in an interview with a US National Public Radio, Asif Ali Zardari said his goal as president would be the development of “full democracy” in the country. “My wife and the Pakistan People’s Party always wished to bring full democracy to Pakistan. We (are going to) get a civilian president in the presidency and then from there on develop democracy in Pakistan,” he said.

Zardari was positive about success of democracy through concerted efforts with political forces when asked about prospects of reaching across the lines in view of the fact that the PPP-led coalition includes parties of various political shades.

“I think democracy will succeed one way or the other. Fragile democracy is a trend in our part of the world. India has 40 parties working together in a democracy. We are four to eight parties working together, hopefully, we will find a solution, democracy has to grow,” he said.

He emphasised continued journey on the path of democracy is vitally important in terms of its stable growth.

He said Pakistan needed full support of US to strengthen democracy, economy and security situation in the country.

He renewed the elected government’s commitment to curb violent extremism, saying it is “Pakistan’s problem first” and it is doing so in cooperation with the US.

About corruption charges, he said that all cases were politically motivated which were rejected by the people of Pakistan. People would not have voted for the PPP had these charges been correct, he added. The Post, 25/8/2008

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