ISLAMABAD - Responding to the scathing criticism of President Asif Ali Zardari, two cabinet members addressed a press conference in a bid to defend his position as beneficiary of the notorious National Reconciliation Ordinance. The President was neither a convict nor an absconder when he contested election for the position of President, said Babar Awan Federal Minister for Parliamentary Affairs accompanied by Information Minister Qamar-uz-Zaman Kaira. The Minister said that the record submitted by National Accountability Bureau (NAB) in the Supreme Court on Tuesday had been prepared by the then Ehtesab Cell Chief Saifur Rehman and was wrong and forged. Talking about the preparation of record by Ehtesb cell, Babar Awan said that the preparation of the said record started from November 5, 1996 by the Ehtesab Cell and then the same record was handed over to NAB. According to the Minister, the media was told only one side of the story. In one of the cases framed against President Zardari, Babar Awan said, it was alleged that he was a front man in the establishment of majority of sugar mills but later courts handed over control of those mills to their owners and there was no proof of ownership by Zardari. He said that after the drug case was proven false, the BMW case was lodged against Asif Ali Zardari. According to the judgement of a full court of the Supreme Court, he said, the conviction in absentia was illegal and ultra vires of the Constitution. aThe nomination papers of Asif Ali Zardari had been scrutinised minutely by the Election Commission of Pakistan at the time of elections for the office of the President, the minister said. He said it was for the first time that three provincial assemblies had passed unanimous resolutions supporting candidature of Asif Ali Zardari. It is regrettable that an office, which is the part of the parliament under the constitution, is being targeted, Minster said adding that it was not fair for democracy, as people had rendered great sacrifices for the process. He said the Government firmly believed in the supremacy of the Constitution and the Parliament and independence of the Judiciary and media. He said President Zardari was incarcerated for over a decade but despite this he had always respected the judiciary. Babar Awan said that the incumbent Government would not bring any direct or indirect legislation to protect NRO or individuals affected by it. He said the NRO was a past and closed transaction as already stated by the Prime Minister on the floor of the National Assembly. To a question, Kaira said they were not commenting on the NRO as per directions of the apex court but their objective was to clarify the position with respect to the material presented before the court by NAB. He said by presenting the record the Government had also proved that it had nothing to hide from the people. The Information Minister said those who believed that they could damage the reputation and identity of the PPP or its leadership at the strength of the propaganda should learn from Gilgit-Baltistan elections where people gave clear mandate to the party. He said it was reflective of the public opinion about the PPP and its leaders.