Pakistan: Qureshi denies reports of forming new party

Qureshi was expected to announce the formation of a new party by March 23.

Islamabad: Former foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Sunday denied media reports that he intended to split from the ruling Pakistan People`s Party and form a new
party in the wake of being denied the foreign affairs portfolio during a recent shake-up of the federal cabinet.

Qureshi, who set off from his hometown of Multan in Punjab province today to visit the mausoleum of late PPP chief Benazir Bhutto in southern Sindh province, told the media that he had no plans to form a new party.

Dismissing media reports about his purported plans to form a new party as rumours, he said he was committed to the PPP.

The News daily had quoted its sources as saying that the estranged PPP leader intended to set up a new party called the People`s Party Shaheed Benazir Bhutto Group.

The sources were quoted as saying that Qureshi was expected to announce the formation of his own party by March 23.

The sources also said Qureshi had contacted senior PPP leaders in Sindh in connection with the move.

Qureshi skipped the swearing-in ceremony for Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani`s new cabinet earlier this month after he learnt that he would not be reallocated the foreign affairs portfolio.

It is believed that Qureshi`s refusal to certify the diplomatic immunity of CIA contractor Raymond Davis, arrested in Lahore for shooting and killing two armed men, was responsible for his ouster from the Foreign Ministry.

The former minister has insisted that the Foreign Office`s records showed that Davis was not entitled to "blanket immunity".

He has also repeatedly criticised the PPP`s top leadership during public appearances in the past few days.