Zardari to address British Pakistanis for support

Discussion in 'Pakistan' started by ifii, Aug 8, 2010.

  1. ifii

    ifii Tihar Jail Banned

    Jun 3, 2010
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    LONDON (Reuters) - President Asif Ali Zardari addresses Britain's Pakistani community on Saturday after coming under fire at home for being out of Pakistan during its worst flooding in 80 years.[​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

  3. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

    Oct 2, 2009
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    BIRMINGHAM: President Asif Ali Zardari rounded off a trip to Britain by addressing a political rally Saturday, facing criticism and protesters for touring overseas as floods killed more than 1,500 people in his country.

    One heckler threw a shoe at Zardari during the event, missing the president, while outside the convention center police cordoned off more than 100 protesters.

    Zardari told supporters his trip to Britain had been a success, and that he had raised tens of thousands of pounds for flood victims at home. Thousands crowded into the convention center in the English city of Birmingham to listen to the visiting leader and other speakers from his Pakistan People’s Party.

    Some protesters placards that read “USA out of Pakistan and Afghanistan.”

    Many Pakistanis are angry about US-led forces within Pakistan and increasing military operations in the frontier and tribal border areas. Others held banners complaining that Zardari chose to continue on his foreign trip at a time of national disaster.

    “Too many Pakistani civilians have lost their lives because of this foreign-led war,” said a protester who identified himself as Iqbal Najid, 32.

    Earlier in the day Zardari’s son and co-chairman of the PPP, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, appealed for donations to help Pakistani flood victims in London.

    Many had expected Zardari’s son to join him at the rally and use the occasion to launch his political career, but the 21-year-old angrily rejected such speculation. Instead, he only appeared before the media briefly at Pakistan’s High Commission in London, where he accepted donations for flood victims and defended his father's trip abroad during the disaster.

    “My father's doing all that he can to aid the people of Pakistan. His personal presence in Pakistan could not have done there what he did here,” Bhutto Zardari told reporters.

    Pakistani officials estimate that as many as 13 million people have been affected in the floods and some 1,500 have died. More rain is expected in the coming days as the bloated Kabul River surged into Pakistan's northwest.

    “This is not a time to play politics. We need to do what is necessary to help our brothers and sisters in Pakistan,” Bhutto Zardari added.

    Although his father said it was only a matter of time before his son carried on the family’s political dynasty, Bhutto Zardari became irritated at reporters’ suggestions that he was using his father’s visit for his political gain and said he never intended to join the rally.

    He would not launch his political career “until I complete my education, as I promised my mother,” he said. Former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto was assassinated at a political rally in late 2007. Her father, the founder of PPP, was hanged in 1979.

    Bhutto Zardari said he would focus on raising money for flood victims in Britain and had no plans to travel to Pakistan soon. Still, many party supporters at the rally Satruday were more interested in talking about the young Oxford graduate than about his father.

    “We want Bilawal to pick up where his mother left off,” said Samina Mohammed, 25. “He can give us the best hope for this country.”

    Plagued by allegations of corruption and money laundering, Zardari hasn’t enjoyed the same support as his slain wife or other members of the Bhutto clan.

    The leader faced domestic criticism for going overseas while his nation battles deadly floods, and his trip had also been fraught because it came so soon after British Prime Minister David Cameron accused Pakistan of exporting terror. The remarks caused a diplomatic row, in part because they were made during Cameron’s visit to India, Pakistan's nuclear rival.

    The Pakistani president rejected the criticism, saying that it was terrorists who killed his wife and who were terrorizing his country. Some 2,500 Pakistani security officials have been killed in battles with militants over the years, and many more civilians have been killed in attacks. On Saturday, the militant Taliban claimed responsibility for the killing of eight foreign aid workers in neighboring Afghanistan.

    In an interview with The Associated Press on Friday, Zardari also defended his trip, saying Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gillani had been dealing with the floods. Prior to his British visit, Zardari was in France where he visited a family chateau and met with French President Nicolas Sarkozy. He will travel to Syria from Britain.

    Analysts predict Zardari's PPP will suffer during the next national elections in 2013 because of Zardari's low approval ratings and the severe challenges currently facing the country.

    Nearly 10,000 members of the party live in Europe, most of them in Britain.

    Pakistan is one of Britain’s most important allies in fighting terrorism. Nearly 1 million people of Pakistani origin live in Britain, and Pakistani intelligence has been crucial in several terror investigations, including the 2005 suicide attacks that killed 52 London commuters and a 2006 trans-Atlantic airliner plot. The ringleader of the 2005 suicide bombings in London and several others reportedly received terror training in Pakistan.

    Zardari has headed a coalition government since unseating Pakistan’s Gen. Pervez Musharraf. The ex-military leader was in power-sharing talks with Bhutto shortly before her assassination at a political rally in December 2007. – AP

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  4. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

    Oct 2, 2009
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    Geo blocked over news of shoe hurling at Zardari

    Updated at: 0940 PST, Sunday, August 08, 2010 ShareThis story

    KARACHI: The transmission of Geo News has been blocked overnight in various parts of country after it aired news regarding hurling of shoes at President Zardari during his party address in Birmingham, Geo News reported cable operators sources as saying.

    Meanwhile, many offices of cable operators in Karachi have been set ablaze by angry activists of Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP).

    Some of PPP’s leaders and government officials have issued threats and warnings to cable operators across country against continuation of Geo News transmission, pressurizing them to shut Geo News transmission but most cable operators refused to do so, sources said.

    However, a private company namely World Call and another one by the name KMPC blocked Geo News signals as late as 2am in morning.

    Newspapers’ vendors have been robbed of copies of Jang and Thenews newspapers upon direction of President Asif Ali Zardari and Information Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira from London, besides, the PPP workers were accompanied by police officials in posing threats to cable operators and hawkers, sources told media.

    Following the blockage, a large number of people registered a massive protest against closure of Geo News transmission across country and rampage, arson and riots triggered by workers of PPP, sources said.

    Meanwhile, many a Geo News’ workers have decided to register a protest against government in reaction against blockage of Geo News transmission over keeping people updated with facts and truths.

    People and Geo News employees have resolved staging a massive string of demonstrations against stoppage of Geo News transmission and burning of Jang and Thenews newspapers by PPP workers, sources said.

    The Demos will be staged outside President House, Prime Minister House, in front of Oman Embassy in Islamabad, outside CM, Governor Houses, Press Clubs and offices of cable operators all over country.

    Most copies of Jang and Thenews newspapers have been burnt to ashes after robbing them of hawkers at gunpoint in Karachi.

    A meeting of journalists, and Geo News employees has been convened in this connection, which will decide further course of action over this issue, journalists told Geo News.

    People were of the view that Geo/Jang Group is being penalized over revealing of facts and speaking the truth. They said the ruling elite is angry over reporting of news regarding controversial visit of president Zardari in face of worst floods in country.

    President was not only being criticized in country but international media were also grilling him due to massive human crisis in country while he refused to call off his UK visit.
  5. Yusuf

    Yusuf GUARDIAN Administrator

    Mar 24, 2009
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    Asked for support, got shoes in return.
  6. Iamanidiot

    Iamanidiot Elite Member Elite Member

    Dec 21, 2009
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    A reception truly fit for the president of pakistan
  7. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

    Oct 2, 2009
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    'I am proud of what I did': Protester who threw shoes at Pakistan president remains unrepentant

    A protester who threw his shoes at the Pakistan president as he gave a speech in Birmingham last night said he was proud of his actions.
    Sardar Mohammed Shamim Khan, 57, said Asif Ali Zardari's speech had incensed him so much that he spontaneously decided to unlace his size 10 leather shoes and hurl them at the bewildered Pakistani leader.
    Police quickly led father-of-four Mr Shamim away before cautioning and later releasing him.
    An unrepentant Mr Khan, from Coventry, West Midlands, last night said: 'I could feel the anger brewing up inside me as Zardari talked about the floods in Pakistan.
    'I thought we have a crisis back at home and all he can do is take a trip around Europe while his own people are suffering.'
    Mr Khan managed to sneak into the invite-only political rally organised by the UK branch of Zardari's Pakistan People's Party.
    More than 2,000 people attended the rally at Birmingham's International Convention Centre while hundreds more protested outside.
    Mr Khan, who was sat about 20 metres away from the President, said: 'I thought his speech was insulting to my people who are dying because of Zardari's government.
    'He is a disgrace and I had to let my feelings be known in a way he would remember.'
    Mr Khan said he shouted: 'Allah is the only one who can give and take lives' as he threw the shoes which failed to hit the president.
    One shoe narrowly missed him while the other was deflected away by a security guard.
    The drama was captured on Pakistani cable TV channel PTV which was live streaming the event.
    But the shoe-throwing incident was edited out and party officials tried to downplay the incident.
    Mr Khan said: 'I am proud of what I did and feel all my prayers have been answered
    'He should go back to Pakistan immediately and apologise for his lack of sympathy. Then he should resign.'
    The Pakistani president addressed thousands of his political party faithful at a packed rally in the city.
    Mr Zardari began his address with a prayer for his murdered wife Benazir Bhutto who he said would have been proud of the progress Pakistan was making on the world stage.
    Wearing a black jacket and speaking in his native Urdu he said: 'She believed in democracy and dialogue and we will not falter from that even if it sometimes causes misunderstandings.'
    Mr Zardari was referring to Prime Minister David Cameron's recent comments accusing Pakistan of 'exporting terror.'
    He thanked British-based Pakistani civic leaders for their help in correcting Mr Cameron's remarks adding: 'Benazir Bhutto was killed because of her mindset.
    'We are now fighting against the opposite mindset that thinks killing in the name of religion is the answer.'
    The rally at Birmingham's International Convention Centre was organised by the British branch of Mr Zardari's Pakistan People's Party, and more than 2,000 people turned up for the event.
    Speakers however, including the president himself, struggled to be heard and were constantly interrupted by exuberant supporters waving flags and chanting: 'Long Live Bhutto. She is alive.'
    Zardari's son and heir apparent Oxford-educated Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, was expected to address the rally but his father said he was in London where he was setting up a relief fund to help victims of the recent floods in north west Pakistan.
    Instead Mr Zaradari's daughter Asifa sat by her father's side, occasionally raising a clenched fist a she joined in with the sloganeering.
    Most of Mr Zaradari's speech was spent thanking his party members and supporters in the UK and he made constant references to Benazir Bhutto.
    He said: 'The day she died I heard a voice in my heart and it was her telling me that Pakistan should not suffer because of her death.
    'The dictator and president at the time Pervez Musharref thought her death would be the death of the party but that can never happen.
    'Instead his supporters are the ones standing outside shouting slogans while we are inside.'
    Mr Zaradri was referring to the hundreds of protesters who had gathered outside the ICC incensed that the president was not at home co-coordinating the flood relief efforts.
    Other demonstrators were more vitriolic with one group of young British-Pakistanis calling themselves Sharia For Pakistan.
    Its spokesman, who gave his name as Abu Jihad, said Zardari was an apostate which is punishable by death according to Sharia law.
    'Zardari is evil and his government is a puppet of the West. We are against any democratic laws because they are not the laws of God.
    'People like Zardari would not be tolerated under an Islamic system and his apostasy would be met with death.'
    His views were echoed by members of Islamist organisation Hizb Ut Tahrir who made up the largest and most vocal contingent of protesters.
    Spokesman Taji Mustafa said it was a disgrace that the president was 'holidaying' while his country was suffering.
    He said: 'This shows complete disdain for his people. He has come to this country despite the UK Prime Minister's comments about Pakistan exporting terror.
    'That was like being slapped in the face. Instead of slapping Cameron's back Zaradari has come to kiss Cameron's hand.'
    Other groups gathered outside included Pakistani Christians, furious at Pakistan's discriminatory blasphemy laws and Kashmiri independence group as well as members of Pakistani cricket legend Imran Khan's Pakistan Movement for Justice party.
    They were carrying placards denouncing Zardari as 'King of Thieves' and 'King of Corruption.'
    Armed police were joined by hundreds of officers who ensured the event passed off without any further trouble despite the highly charged atmosphere.

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  8. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

    Oct 2, 2009
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    Criticism of Zardari in Pakistan hides a political game

    The Pakistani media's criticism of President Asif Ali Zardari over his visit to the United Kingdom has been unprecedented.

    Newspapers and television news have criticised him for being absent when Pakistan was struck by the worst floods in living memory.

    While the president has been out of the country, more than 1,500 people have been killed and scores of villages have been swept away.

    Over four million people have been displaced. They now face hunger and disease.In the initial days of the disaster the government failed to provide any response, and now the politicians are being heavily criticised for it.

    In contrast, the media repeatedly drove home the point that, while the army's response was also inadequate given the scale of the disaster, at least the soldiers were out there.

    The absent president has been criticised by the international media for his apparent indifference. But in Pakistan, the media's scorn has a deeper meaning and motive.

    It hints at tensions between the country's civilian democracy and the powerful military establishment.

    Personal motives
    "President Zardari would have done nothing had he remained at home, but at least he could have spared the nation's feelings," popular columnist Ayaz Amir wrote on Friday.
    In an editorial comment on Saturday, Pakistan's Dawn newspaper said Mr Zardari had travelled to England "as a man possessed, who cares nothing for the torrents at home".

    So why did he embark on the tour in the first place?

    There are two explanations.

    Firstly, he had personal motives.

    He wanted to shine in the limelight, enjoy European summer and launch the political career of his son, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari.

    Secondly, he embarked on the trip to show his disregard for Pakistan's military establishment.

    Mr Zardari's supporters believe that cancelling the trip would not have helped him.

    "He would have been remembered and criticised even if there were no floods in the country," said Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani on Thursday.

    And indeed, the current anti-Zardari campaign in the media started before the floods hit the headlines.

    The criticism began after British Prime Minister David Cameron made remarks in India on 28 July where he accused some in Pakistan of "looking both ways", exporting terror to neighbouring countries.

    On 31 July, Pakistan's Geo TV reported that the chief of the ISI intelligence service, Lt Gen Ahmed Shuja Pasha, had cancelled a scheduled trip to the UK because of Mr Cameron's remarks, but Mr Zardari was continuing with his planned trip.

    Pakistan's ubiquitous TV news presenters began questioning President Zardari's patriotism and personal integrity.

    The print media was not far behind.

    While President Zardari's European tour had been "reduced to a pleasure trip" after Mr Cameron's remarks, "the army reacted in a timely and dignified manner" by cancelling the ISI chief's UK visit, an editorial comment in the Pakistan Observer newspaper said.

    The News newspaper called Mr Zardari's visit a "pursuit of his own dynastic aggrandizement".

    The floods only intensified this initial criticism.

    Unnamed sources
    Two significant developments took place on Thursday.
    Firstly, Bilawal Bhutto denied he was planning to address the Pakistan Peoples' Party rally in Birmingham, one of the main reasons for Mr Zardari's trip.

    Secondly, Prime Minister Gilani informed journalists that the ISI chief had not, in fact, scheduled a visit to the UK in the first place.

    Many quarters insist Bilawal Bhutto's "cancellation" of an appearance at the Birmingham show may be the result of a rethink on the part of Mr Zardari's advisers to minimise political damage.

    But what about the confusion over the story about the ISI chief's visit to the UK?

    The initial report on Geo TV had come from mysterious, unnamed sources.

    And even more mysteriously, the army's media wing - which normally keeps a hawkish eye on the news, correcting reports at the first possible stage - had not stepped in to clarify the report.

    Friendly journalists
    The ties between the military and the media are strong.The military often use the media to protect its hold on the giant corporate empire which it has built.

    In the 1980s the military did this through open censorship. Since the 1990s it has evolved subtler ways.

    It controls almost all access to big stories, and has therefore been able to raise a corps of "friendly" journalists who now control most key jobs in Pakistani media due to their "contacts".

    President Zardari's supporters suggest the media could have made up the story of the ISI cancelling its trip to the UK in order to spark an anti-Zardari campaign, which intensified as the scale of the flood damage became clear.

    'Maximum impact'
    The government, which is already under attack from all quarters - the military, the judiciary and the political groups that support Islamic militants - finds itself on a difficult wicket while dealing with the media, says a senior member of the government, who requested anonymity.

    "If the government has a piece of information which they can use to puncture the balloon of unfriendly propaganda, they use it only when they are sure it will have maximum impact," he said.

    Privately, politicians more or less subscribe to views expressed by Mr Cameron and say military officers are the ones "looking both ways" on the Taliban.

    These politicians desperately need a normalisation of relations with India and Afghanistan because that is the only way they can create business and employment opportunities for their voters and stay popular.

    But the military is afraid this will erode its huge business empire which provides thousands of corporate sector jobs to retiring officers every year.

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