Asfandyar rejects WikiLeaks report of Kayani offering him presidency

Cables show Pak Army chief had offered ANP chief him to become president.

Islamabad: Awami National Party (ANP) chief Asfandyar Wali Khan has dismissed whistle-blower website WikiLeaks’ report that said Army Chief General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani had offered him to become the president of Pakistan.

Talking to journalists, Asfandyar said the reports about other politicians were also baseless, the Dawn reports.

He, however, acknowledged that President Asif Ali Zardari had offered him presidency before his election as President, but he had declined the proposal.

The presidency was a right of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) because it had been given the mandate, he added.

A leaked diplomatic cable released by WikiLeaks said: “During Ambassador’s fourth meeting in a week with Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Kayani on March 10 (2009), he again hinted that he might, however reluctantly, have to persuade President Zardari to resign if the situation sharply deteriorates.”

“He (Kayani) mentioned Asfandyar Wali Khan as a possible replacement. This would not be a formal coup but would leave in place the PPP government, led by PM Gilani, thus avoiding elections that likely would bring Nawaz Sharif to power,” the cable added.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s Information Minister Mian Iftikhar Hussain had confirmed the disclosure, saying, “Asfandyar Wali Khan received the offer to become the president but he declined…Our party didn’t have the support required for the post and we could not accept the offer.”