Former president Asif Ali Zardari, addressing the National Assembly for the first time since his arrest by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) on June 10, said on Thursday that the government and the opposition should come to the table and discuss an economic policy “to move forward”.
He said, “let’s give the economic policy ownership, so that it remains forever.”
As Zardari appears in court after issuance of his production orders by the National Assembly Secretariat, his daughters – Aseefa and Bakhtawar – were seated in the NA gallery along with his son -the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) chairperson and MNA Bilawal Bhutto Zardari.
Taking a shot at the government’s recently introduced budget, Zardari said that industries were placing ads in newspapers saying, “Save us,” adding, “if the budget is so good and so expected and if we are getting money from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), why are people crying, why are industries crying?”
The budget had raised government salaries but it had also increased taxes, said Zardari, adding that there was so much fear amongst businessmen and investors that they weren’t ready to invest in anything.
“If you have more than Rs500,000 in your cheque book, then you get an FBR notice to come and give an account for it.”
Zardari questioned, “in the whole country, who all will give an account,” adding, “but the average person is worried that if Zardari sahab can be caught what will happen to us.”
“This is something to think about and to understand. They should think about it and they should understand it. The forces that brought them should also understand it.”
Expressing fear that tomorrow the entire country may stand up and then “neither us, any political party nor anyone will be able to handle [the situation].”
Zardari appreciated Baloch leaders and the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) who had supported them in these “tough times”.