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'Musharraf is not constitutional President'

Embattled Pervez Musharraf suffers another setback with ruling PPP saying it does not accept him as a constitutional President.
By HT Correspondent | PTI, Islamabad
UPDATED ON JUN 09, 2008 04:12 PM IST

Embattled Pervez Musharraf has suffered another set back with the ruling Pakistan's People's Party saying that it does not acknowledge him as a constitutional President as the former military strongman occupies the position by default.

PPP co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari has said that the coalition government at the Centre has "working relationship" with Musharraf only because of the position he occupies.

"Since we have to run the affairs of the state, we have maintained a working relationship with the president," he told reporters in Jeddah on Sunday.

"We have put aside our personal likes or dislikes as we neither give advantage nor disadvantage to anyone," said Zardari, who had recently described Musharraf as a "relic of the past" standing between the people and democracy.

The PPP leader's comments came in the wake of assertions by Musharraf that he had no plans to resign or go into exile despite increasing pressure from political parties to step down.

Zardari, who was in Saudi Arabia with Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani for talks with the Saudi leadership, said the PPP did not believe in relations with personalities but worked for a stable political system and to strengthen institutions.

The PPP had not supported any dictator in the past nor would it do so in future. The party had also never sought the support of dictators to come to power because it had always struggled for genuine democracy, he said.

"Security, economy and democracy in Pakistan are the priorities of the PPP-led government," Zardari said and blamed mismanagement and poor policies of the past decade for the current economic crisis.

Zardari said that Saudi Arabia would help Pakistan improve its strategic oil reserves and consider a request for supplying oil against deferred payments.

"Saudi Arabia will help Pakistan improve its strategic oil reserves, to make them permanent," he said. Noting that Saudi leaders had always generously helped Pakistan and thought of protecting its interests, he said Prime Minister Gilani's visit would add new dimensions to Pakistan's relations with the Gulf kingdom.

Pakistan imports around 250,000 barrels of oil a day from Saudi Arabia and it has been hit hard by the recent increase in oil prices, which have resulted in its oil bill rising by over 40 per cent in around 10 months.

Zardari also said the PPP is working on a package of incentives for the under-privileged sections of society that would be part of the upcoming budget. The government will provide relief of Rs 1,000 to Rs 1,500 to the poorest of the poor in the budget to improve their buying power.

The government will also try to improve exports to India and he and other leaders will visit India in the near future for this purpose, Zardari said.

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