Former Pakistan foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi today resigned from both Parliament and the ruling Pakistan People's Party and launched a scathing attack on President Asif Ali Zardari, saying he had "sold" out his values to cling to power.
Qureshi, who has been estranged from the PPP since he was not reallocated the foreign affairs portfolio during a cabinet reshuffle in February, sought to blame Zardari for his decision to leave the party.
He accused Zardari, who is also the head of the PPP, of abandoning values and politics espoused by slain former party chief and premier Benazir Bhutto. "Zardari has moved away from (Bhutto's) vision.
His love for the chair is so great and he is so determined to cling to his position that he is ready to sacrifice everything – values, the party and its workers," Qureshi told reporters. Zardari, he claimed, had changed Bhutto's "politics of resistance" into "politics of capitulation". He said: "Benazir Bhutto was a symbol of resistance against dictatorships and unconstitutional rule and President Zardari is an epitome of capitulation to internal and external pressures".
Accusing Zardari of burying Bhutto's "vision and politics along with her", Qureshi said: "This is not Benazir Bhutto's PPP, it is the Zardari league...I want to say that I will not remain associated with the Zardari league. "I am severing links with it. I announce that I am leaving the Zardari league".
Qureshi said he would announce his future political plans during a meeting to be held at Ghotki in Sindh province on November 27. Qureshi's decision was not unexpected as Pakistan's political circles were abuzz with reports that he intended to sever his ties with the PPP as he had been completely sidelined within the party after criticising the policies of the government and President Zardari. Reports have suggested that Qureshi is now set to join cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan's Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf party.
Qureshi, who was associated with the PPP for about two decades, attacked the party's decision to forge an alliance with the PML-Q, which had earlier backed former military ruler Pervez Musharraf.
He said he had opposed the alliance with the PML-Q because he felt it went against the Charter of Democracy signed by the PPP and PML-N in 2006. "There is no ground for an alliance with the PML-Q till (Benazir Bhutto's) killers are unmasked," he said. The current cabinet has persons who abandoned Bhutto "when she was alive, hurt her and were her enemies", he said.
Qureshi urged members of the provincial and national assemblies to resign and launch a movement for a fresh election. "I urge the members of the assemblies to contact the people and demand a fresh election under an independent Election Commission and a caretaker set-up whose neutrality is not doubted by anyone," he said. "The time has come to let the people of Pakistan decide what is good for them and who is good for them," he added.