Islamabad: Amid intense criticism of the
government for its inept handling of the flood relief work,
Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari has warned that "non-state
actors" wanted to take over the country by weakening the
It would be dangerous for the whole region if these
"non-state actors" succeed in their plans, Zardari said,
without identifying such elements.
However, he expressed confidence that there would be no
political change in the country through undemocratic means.
The President said the 2008 Mumbai attacks too were
carried out by "non-state elements" and called on democratic
forces in Pakistan and India to strengthen their ties to
"block such incidents in future."
The government led by Zardari`s Pakistan People`s Party
(PPP) has been the subject of intense criticism following its
inept handling of the country`s economic problems and the
rehabilitation of millions of people affected by floods.
Stung by speculation about a change of government,
Zardari and Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani have mounted a
strong defence of the administration.
Zardari, in an interview to a TV news channel, said PPP
governments were removed twice in the past on the basis of
allegations which could not be proved so far.
He said there would be a long list if he starts naming
"political actors and orphans" involved in such moves against
Besides bringing democracy, the PPP brought good
governance to the country and Prime Minister Gilani is
performing well, Zardari said.
He called on leaders of different political parties to
play their role in strengthening the democratic system and
confronting the challenges of terrorism and floods.
He said he did not agree with the view that opposition
PML-N leader Nawaz Sharif had parted ways with the PPP, and
maintained that the PML-N was still his party`s coalition
partner in Punjab province.
Sharif has a democratic approach and never talked of any
change through undemocratic means, Zardari said.
However, the PPP and PML-N are different political
parties with their own manifestos and they have to make
"political statements," he added.
Zardari rejected the notion that the PPP-led government
has any credibility issue, saying international institutions
and friendly countries are generously contributing to and
supplementing the country`s flood relief efforts.
He said Rs 380 billion will be distributed among flood
victims through Watan Cards and money is also being provided
through the Benazir Income Support Programme. Zardari also rejected the view that he made a foreign trip during the floods and said when he left for the visit and for scheduled meetings, Pakistan had only experienced rains and there was no deluge.
Replying to a question, Zardari said the PPP government,
because of its majority status in the Sindh assembly, has
decided to impose flood tax on the affluent class in the
After the flood tax is levied in Sindh, the federal
government will discuss the issue with other provinces as a
decision has to be made through consultation, he said.
Asked about NATO air strikes inside Pakistani territory,
the President said the government has taken serious notice of
the matter and registered a strong protest with the NATO
headquarters in Brussels.
He expressed the hope that the issue would be resolved
Replying to another question about his holding the
offices of co-chairman of the PPP as well as of the President,
Zardari said it was not written anywhere in the Constitution
that a person could not hold the two positions.