Zardari vows to uphold democracy, urges political resolution

There is no ‘third umpire’, says Zardari

LAHORE: Following his meeting Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Jamaat-i-Islami (JI) Emir Sirajul Haq and PML-Q leaders, Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari Saturday evening said that his party will not let democracy be derailed.

Former president Asif Ali Zardari said on Saturday that there is “no third umpire,” adding that if there was one, the matter would have escalated.
“We are all working together,” he said, while stressing on the need for dialogue. “Democracy means never shutting the door.”
The former president made a rare appearance before the media following his day-long trip to Lahore, where he met Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif along with other PML-N members as well as leaders of various other parties, including the PML-Q and JI.
The former president was noticeably in a good mood while responding to questions posed by media persons, during which he said, “Conspiracies are part and parcel of politics.”
Maintaining a diplomatic stance, Zardari said, “We welcome the PTI government, it is their first time on the national front.”
He also said that the PPP acknowledges the PTI’s right to hold on to their position when he was asked about the party’s decision to resign from the National Assembly.
“One democratic government should not challenge another democratic government, especially through street power,” the PPP chief said, adding, “Under no circumstances should democracy be challenged or derailed.”
Zardari also advised the government to deal with everything in a peaceful manner, and proudly said that the PPP had “completed five years making peace.”
“I am for Pakistan, I am not for anybody else. I have given this Parliament power,” he said.
The former president also added, “At this moment, we need to focus on standing with our armed forces who are engaged in an operation.”

While, speaking at a press conference here, he reiterated that the PPP will extend every possible effort to uphold democracy in the country.

Regarding his meeting with the prime minister, Zardari said he urged Prime Minister Sharif to resolve the current political crisis through dialogue. “I told PM Nawaz Sharif…dialogue, dialogue and dialogue… democracy means never shutting the door,” said the former president.

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“Democracy should not be derailed, ” he said. “Once our democratic system is strong enough then we can afford street demonstrations. Otherwise they will derail the system.”

He expressed optimism that a peaceful solution would be achieved with current efforts of dialogue between the two sides. He said the country at this critical juncture needed unity among political forces.

Asif Zardari said it was the Parliament’s prerogative to complete its constitutional term. “We are the opposition and will remain the same…however, we do not want indulge in an unconstitutional and undemocratic attitude.”

Answering a question regarding resignations submitted by the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) lawmakers, he said: “I won’t call it immaturity, they are politicians and we have welcomed them in the Parliament and all political parties should stand united for the greater national interest.”

“I voluntarily devolved power to the Parliament in order to strengthen the country’s democratic structure,” said the former president referring to amendment of Article 58 (2b) of the Constitution during his party’s rule.

“There is no third umpire …. and things should not be referred to the third umpire…we should resolve the issues…otherwise it will become a long tale,” said the PPP leader.