ISLAMABAD - Outgoing President Asif Ali Zardari on Thursday reiterated his party PPP will continue supporting PML-N-led government at the Centre during its five-year tenure, hoping that under Nawaz’ leadership Pakistan will achieve self-reliance and become an Asian Tiger.
He was speaking to a farewell reception hosted for him by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. The PM House luncheon had all the flavours of nostalgia as the two leaders fondly cherished the memories of their political association.
They acknowledged the warmth and support extended to each other despite their political differences. Nawaz commended Zardari and the role he played after his wife Benazir’s death. He said he wanted President Zardari to leave with pleasant memories.
President Zardari is the first elected head of state set to complete, without any legal crisis, his five-year term in office. He also has the distinction of addressing joint sitting of parliament six times.
“I did not feel like coming to the PM house today as it reminded me of my wife and children who were arrested from this place,“ President Zardari said, but he added: “I never let these painful memories affect me as I turn my pain into my strength.“
Recalling the pleasant memories of the meeting in Jeddah with Benazir Bhutto and Asif Ali Zardari, the signing of Charter of Democracy in Dubai and the Raiwind rendezvous, Nawaz said the spirit of goodwill prevailed among them ‘for the sake of democracy’. He said memories could be both sweet and bitter but his heart was only filled with the pleasant ones, and he wanted to bid adieu to President Zardari with the sweet memories.
Nawaz said Zardari’s warm-hearted approach during the Jeddah meeting and taking lead in interactions proved that this leader had the intent to turn this social alliance into an important milestone of politics. He said the memories of those days were so fresh that he could still feel the scent of the roses presented to him by the daughters of Zardari and Benazir at a lunch they hosted for him at their London residence.
He recalled Zardari’s visit to his house in Murree after the Pakistan Peoples Party gained success in 2008 elections. He said he had extended felicitations to Zardari on his victory from the core of his heart. He could not forget the moments of grief when he paid a visit to Naudero to condole the death of Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto, he added.
Prime Minister Nawaz paid tributes to President Zardari for completing his tenure by upholding the spirit of reconciliation and introducing the spirit of personal rapport and camaraderie in politics. He termed it a historic moment as for the very first time an elected prime minister was bidding farewell to an elected president who was completing his five-year tenure in the country’s 66-year history.
“This is an unprecedented golden chapter added to the annuls of our history. It’s a new history in the making,” the prime minister remarked. Nawaz said credit goes to Zardari for sagaciously introducing 18th amendment and restoring the 1973 constitution.
The prime minister prayed for the health and long life of President Zardari to carry forward his mission to work for the country’s prosperity. “I am saying you goodbye with all the sincere wishes and prayers. I am sure that your party, under your leadership, will continue its democratic traditions. The prosperity of country and its people and strengthening the democracy is our common agenda,” he said.
President Zardari thanked Premiere Nawaz for hosting the farewell for him. He stressed continuing cooperation for the sake of democracy and respecting each other’s views rather than ridiculing and humiliating each other at television channels. The reception was attended by the president and the prime minister of Azad Jammu and Kashmir, President-elect Mamnoon Hussain, former PM Yousaf Raza Gilani, federal ministers, services chiefs and leaders of political parties.
Earlier, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif called on President Zardari at Aiwan-e-Sadar and felicitated him on completing his constitutional tenure as head of the state. The two discussed the country’s overall political situation during the 30-minute meeting, according to sources. They said both the leaders agreed that to sustain the democratic setup in Pakistan, it was imperative to move forward in accordance with the Charter of Democracy (CoD).
During the meeting, President Zardari said that the PPP would play the role of a genuine opposition and would also commend the government in instances and situations that merit praise. The two leaders also discussed matters relating to cooperation between the federal and provincial governments as well as the recent decisions of the cabinet on the law and order situation in Karachi.