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Zardari urged to call off Britain visit

world Updated: Aug 01, 2010 23:48 IST
IANS
Pakistan President

Opposition parties have asked President Asif Ali Zardari to cancel his impending visit to Britain in the wake of British Prime Minister David Cameron's remarks against Pakistan that "the country must stop exporting terror".

The main opposition Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) has raised the demand in a veiled manner. PML-N chief and former prime ministet Nawaz Sharif said during a visit to the flood-hit town of Noshehra in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa that the deaths and emergency situation made it unreasonable for the president to undertake a foreign trip at this crucial juncture.

Sharif's bother and Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif said the president should cancel his visit and spend the money allocated for his trip on the flood-affected people across Pakistan.

This prompted Zardari's close aide and Federal Law Minister Babar Awan to take a swipe at the Sharif brothers, saying that they had properties in Britain worth millions of pounds, which should be sold to help those in distress back home.

"The president is not going on a pleasure trip to Britain like Nawaz Sharif and Shahbaz Sharif," he contended.

The Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) president Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain also demanded the president to call off the visit to condemn the statement of David Cameron.

Cricketer-turned-politician and chairman of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaaf Imran Khan accused Zardari and Nawaz Sharif of not openly condemning the statement of British premier because their properties and other political stakes were involved.

The foreign office has also protested Cameron's remarks. Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi has said that the government plans to summon the British high commissioner in Islamabad to lodge a strong protest. Nothing of this sort has happened despite the lapse of a couple of days.

Qureshi, however, was non-committal on the chances of Zardari not undertaking his visit in protest. A foreign office spokesman later issued a release saying that the visit will not be cancelled.

Zardari is scheduled to meet Cameron during his visit commencing Aug 3 in the first meeting of both dignitaries since the new British premier assumed office.

The News daily has carried a report regarding the expenses to be incurred on the visit, alleging it would be one of the most expensive trips ever undertaken by a Pakistani head of state.

Federal Minister for Commerce Makhdoom Amin Faheen on the other hand, denied that it was an official trip. He said the president was going abroad to attend personal engagements and would pay for it from his own kitty.