LAHORE - Asserting that all institutions should work together to steer the country out of the crises, PPP Co-chairperson Asif Ali Zardari praised Pakistan Army, lauding its sacrifices in the war on terror.

In his speech at a dinner reception hosted in his honour by PPP Punjab President Mian Manzoor Ahmed Wattoo at Bahria Town, the PPP leader also recognised the army’s role as one of the country’s institutions.

He was of the view that the country could progress only if all institutions worked together. “We have to work together by showing respect for each other. We should give respect to Pakistan Army whose soldiers are offering sacrifices in the war on terror,” he observed, adding the government should take along all the institutions which, he said, was key to success.  He remarked it was not good to do politics with a stiff neck. He said if the PPP came to power as a result of next elections, a businessman would be made the country’s finance minister.

In an indirect reference to some TV anchors, the PPP leader complained some ‘Gullu Butts’ on different news channels were busy tarnishing the image of politicians. He lamented that politicians in Pakistan were being ridiculed. “Who will manage the country if the people lose trust in politicians as a result of propaganda against them?” he asked, adding only the politicians were running government affairs across the world. “Dictators and technocrats can neither make a country nor can they run it,” he observed. Asif, however, admitted politicians committed mistakes in politics.

Commenting on the current political situation, he said it was for the first time that the Parliament was supporting the prime minister. He said PPP would criticise the government on issues only. “We will challenge the government on economic issues, but won’t let the Parliament fall,” he said. Referring to the sit-ins, he said: “This drama has already been staged in the past.”  The PPP leader said his party would never indulge in power game. “We all have to fight the war for Pakistan,” he maintained. Zardari said PPP would struggle for change in the system while remaining part of it. All have to join hands to correct the system. Problems will only be addressed if the system is right,” he asserted.

He said it was the job of a leader to change people’s thinking. “There are still people in this country with the mentality of Gullu Butt.”

On this occasion, he recalled the days of his imprisonment in Punjab. “This is for the first that I have celebrated Eid as a free man in Punjab. Before this, I have spent seven years in jail here. He praised hospitality of the people of Punjab, saying they were very loving and caring. “Even a policeman in jail could feel the pain in his heart seeing me in confinement,” he added. He said every dictator tried to weaken the PPP and they succeeded in doing so for the time being. Shaheed BB was given 17 seats once and she also served as opposition leader, he said.

Earlier, at a meeting with women party workers here at Bilawal House, Asif Ali Zardari announced that her youngest daughter Aseefa would be taking active part in politics from next year.

“She would complete her education next year and people would find her among them taking active part in political activities,” he said, adding that he wanted maximum participation of women in politics.  Asking women activists to expand their sphere of politics, Zardari tasked Begum Mushtaq Pagganwala from Gujrat to bring at least 1,000 new activists into the party fold to set an example for others to follow. He said PPP had always encouraged women’s participation in politics by giving them important portfolios. In this regard, he mentioned the names of Hina Rabbani Khar and Dr Fehmida Mirza as the first woman foreign minister of Pakistan and the National Assembly speaker, respectively.

He also mentioned Begum Rana Liaqat Ali Khan and Begum Ashraf Abbasi who served as Sindh governor and NA deputy speaker, respectively, during PPP tenures.

He said his two sisters could reach the assemblies without contesting election, but they preferred to go directly to the electorate. He said two of her advisers were also “jiyalian”.

Zardari said political game was played against him and Dajjal, an indirect reference to ex-CJP Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, also played political game with him.