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Will zardari play ball with Musharraf?

Shahadat Awan states that the absence of Zardari in court in the Mir Murtuza Bhutto murder case was because he was busy receiving condolences of his wife Benazir Bhutto, reports Kamal Siddiqi.

world Updated: Jan 22, 2008 21:41 IST
Kamal Siddiqi

Earlier this week, in a small court in Karachi, the Additional and District Session Judge, East, Mrs Nasreen Mansoor, condoned an application of Asif Ali Zardari for not appearing before the court in the Mir Murtuza Bhutto murder case. She put off the case to March 8 with the direction of personal appearance in court.

The judge could have issued arrest warrants for Zardari but was instead more sympathetic to the application by advocate Shahadat Awan who stated that the absence of the accused was because he was busy receiving condolences of his wife and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) chairperson Benazir Bhutto’s death.

In the past, the government has not been that understanding. Zardari has been unable to attend family funerals or visit the hospital while in jail. But now there is talk that the government may re-enact the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) if the People's Party decides to cooperate with President Musharraf in future. This is the carrot that is being placed in front of Zardari for him to cooperate with President Pervez Musharraf.

The News reported on Monday that Attorney-General Justice (retd) Malik Muhammad Qayyum told Zardari in Dubai on Sunday that a political agreement was possible. “Otherwise, cases against the party leaders would reopen after the legislation lapses,” the report added, quoting the Pakistan AG.

But it seems that Zardari is not playing ball. On Monday, Zardari told US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice that the ability of the Musharraf regime to secure and protect Pakistan is consistently eroding, notwithstanding the draconian powers accumulated under the garb of emergency, especially after the assassination of Benazir Bhutto and the recent spate of suicide bombings and violence across the country.