ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Peoples Party’s (PPP) senior leaders Sherry Rehman and Qamar Zaman Kaira, talking to media personnel after an Iftar dinner at Zardari House on Friday, said their party chief’s military remarks from a few days ago were aimed at “former military personnel, not incumbent army chief General Raheel Sharif.”
“We have the highest respect for General Raheel,” said Sherry Rehman.
Kaira said the entire party stood by Zardari’s comments made at a party event a couple of days ago in Islamabad. Kaira went on to say that Zardari’s remarks should be understood in a “specific context since they pointed towards a defining line in Pakistan’s civil-military relations.”
“If there was some harshness in Zardari sahab’s tone, there must be a reason for that… But all senior members and political friends have advised Zardari to maintain his cool demeanor.”
Kaira also said that no one had advised Zardari to take back his comments.
Sherry Rehman said the PPP was concerned with an imbalance in civil-military relations, adding that all party bearers are of the opinion that state institutions should not overstep their mandate.
When asked whether Zardari had consulted party members before making the military-related remarks, both Rehman and Kaira said Zardari “did not need to consult anyone to make comments at a local party event.”
“Peoples Party is not defending corruption, let me make that very clear. We have always stood for rooting out terrorism and furthering democracy. Our goal is to balance civil-military relations in Pakistan,” said Sherry Rehman.
Both leaders said the PPP had fully supported the Karachi operation and also agreed to granting special powers to Rangers in Sindh, where the PPP has been ruling for more than seven years.
On Tuesday, in an uncharacteristically aggressive speech, Pakistan Peoples Party Co-Chairperson Asif Ali Zardari lashed out against what he called “the character assassination of his party” and warned the military leadership that if they did not stop, he would expose the misdeeds of many generals.
The confrontational tone of Mr Zardari’s outburst was quite unprecedented, as was his open declaration of “dire consequences” if any action was taken against the PPP.
Reacting to the PPP chief’s statement, however, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan dismissed the criticism, saying that the Peoples Party was merely paying the price for its own ineptitude.