PPP slams Qureshi, with speculation over disciplinary action

Last Updated: Sunday, February 13, 2011 - 21:29

Islamabad: The Pakistan People`s Party
on Sunday slammed former Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi for
saying that a US official arrested for killing two men could
not be given diplomatic immunity, with leaders accusing him of
working against the party`s interests.

Qureshi, who skipped the swearing-in ceremony for
Pakistan`s new cabinet on Friday after he learnt that the PPP
leadership had decided not to reallocate the foreign affairs
portfolio to him, said that US official Raymond Davis is not a
diplomat according to official records and experts in the
Foreign Office and could not be given "blanket diplomatic
immunity".

"The kind of blanket immunity Washington is pressing
for Davis is not endorsed by the official record of the
Foreign Ministry", said Qureshi.

"On the basis of the official record and the advice
given to me by the technocrats and experts of the Foreign
Office, I could not certify him (Davis) as a diplomat", he
told The News daily.

The PPP launched a frontal attack on the former
minister after he made his views public.

PPP secretary general Raja Pervez Ashraf compared
Qureshi to late President Farooq Ahmad Khan Leghari, who had
dismissed former premier Benazir Bhutto`s government in 1996
despite belonging to the PPP.

The late President`s name is often used in Pakistani
politics to derisively refer to a turncoat.

Ashraf said the "tone and tenor of Qureshi indicates
that another Leghari is in the making in the party".

"Mr Shah Mahmood Qureshi`s fate will not be different
than that of Leghari", he added.

Information Minister Firdous Aashiq Awan, considered
close to PPP chief Asif Ali Zardari`s camp, said Qureshi`s
statements were not in Pakistan`s favour and would "create a
bad environment in the country".

"Shah Mahmood had not shown his concerns when he was
Foreign Minister and now these remarks about Davis are not in
favour of the country", Awan told a news channel.

Reports have suggested that the PPP decided to remove
Qureshi from the foreign ministry because of his decision not
to back a move by the party`s top leadership to grant
diplomatic immunity to Davis, who was arrested in Lahore last
month after he shot and killed two men.

Ashraf said Qureshi, like other former ministers, was
always given a chance by the PPP to provide inputs in the
government`s decision-making process and all party leaders had
unanimously agreed to the move to curtail the size of the
cabinet.

Qureshi "must realize that his efforts to pressurize
the party shall never become a reality as the party does not
owe its strength to individuals but to the people of
Pakistan", Ashraf said.

"It seems that Qureshi has joined the band wagon of
political actors hatching conspiracies against the party
leadership but this new conspiracy would also fail like the
previous ones", he added.

Ashraf said it was "quite strange" that Qureshi`s
revelations about the Davis case "came only after his
exclusion from the cabinet" though the incident was in the
news for the past few weeks and the PPP`s top leadership had
said that the matter would be decided by the courts.

There was "no ambiguity or confusion" in the
government`s stance, he said.

Questioning the veracity of Qureshi’s disclosures,
Ashraf said he had insisted on keeping the foreign affairs
portfolio after being offered the water and power ministry.

This showed that Mr Qureshi`s conscience awakened to
the call of his personal interest and not the national
interest as he is trying to prove by feeding false stories to
the media, he added.

A section of the PPP`s leadership has also said that
Qureshi might face disciplinary action if he does not clear
his position to the party chief, President Zardari.

Relations between Pakistan and the US have plunged to
a new low over the diplomatic immunity row for Davis.

Pakistani leaders have rebuffed repeated US demands
for Davis to be freed on the ground that he has diplomatic
immunity.

The US has suspended all high-level contacts with
Pakistan and postponed a crucial trilateral meeting later this
month that was to discuss the situation in Afghanistan.

PTI



First Published: Sunday, February 13, 2011 - 21:29

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