Lahore: Pakistan's former foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi has responded to apparent criticism of his actions by President Asif Ali Zardari by saying that the ruling PPP government should get rid of "rotten fish" within its ranks to improve its image among the people.
Qureshi said "a few rotten fish" in the government were responsible for the problems being faced by Pakistan.
"A few rotten fish cannot be allowed to pollute the whole pond and determine the fate of the nation," he said during an interaction with reporters at the Lahore Press Club yesterday.
His comments came in the wake of Zardari's remarks that some "rotten eggs" wanted to assume the position of the Bhutto family that has led the PPP since its inception.
"Those who quit the party and then return don't command respect. Nobody can become Bhutto," Zardari told party lawmakers earlier this week without naming Qureshi.
Qureshi has been criticising the government, especially its handling of the case of arrested CIA contractor Raymond Davis, since the PPP's top leadership decided not to reallocate the foreign affairs portfolio to him during a recent revamp of the cabinet.
He has also been sidelined within the party for claiming that Davis did not enjoy blanket immunity.
The former minister said "honest, clean and visionary leaders" should come forward to rescue Pakistan.
“It is now time for political cleansing of the parties. It is time to remove the real rotten eggs from the parties," he said.
He called on Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani to take the country into confidence on the release of Davis, who was freed on Wednesday after over USD 2 million was paid as "blood money" to the families of two men he shot and killed in January.
"The mystery shrouding the release of Davis has raised more questions than answers," he claimed.
Qureshi said the procedure adopted for Davis' release vindicated his stand that the American did not have diplomatic immunity.
"If Davis had immunity, the US government would not have paid diyat to secure his release," he said.
He also raised several questions: "Who paid the diyat? People want to know since the US Secretary of State has categorically denied paying blood money. It is a sad reflection that the law was used as a political tool to free Davis," he said.
Qureshi asked who had negotiated the deal to free Davis.
"Since the American officials have made it clear that they had no direct dealing with the families of the victims, the people of Pakistan demand a transparent and full disclosure of the process and trial," he said.
First Published: Saturday, March 19, 2011, 15:28