Zardari for status quo on Musharraf for now

Islamabad, April 20:

The widower of Pakistani ex-premier Benazir Bhutto says his party will consider challenging President Pervez Musharraf once it musters the numbers needed to oust him.

Asif Ali Zardari, the co-chairman of Bhutto’s Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), in an interview

given to the BBC’s Urdu language service broadcast late yesterday, said for now the status quo would be maintained.

“We neither hate him nor love him. (We) will maintain status quo for the time being and once we have the two-thirds majority we will think about his accountability,” Zardari said, referring to the numbers needed in parliament to seek Musharraf’s impeachment.

He said that confrontation with US ally Musharraf was being avoided for now in the interests of the nation. “We do not want confrontation because of the country, but it does not mean that we accept him,” he added.

Zardari said he would contest a by-election in his wife’s native Larkana constituency in June.

Asked if he had ambitions to be prime minister, Zardari said that if required, he would be willing to take on the post.

“It is not necessary that a party chairman should become prime minister, but if required, I can.” Zardari is the de facto leader of the PPP, which won the most seats in February elections and, along with former prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N), trounced Musharraf’s political backers.

Meanwhile, an AP report from Peshawar said British Foreign Secretary David Miliband arrived today in Pakistan for talks on increasing cooperation to combat terrorism, a British embassy spokesman said.

During his two-day visit, Miliband will meet with newly elected Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani and President Pervez Musharraf, said Aidan Liddle, spokesman for the British High Commission. “It’s a sort of listening visit. He wants to come out and meet the new government and find out what their priorities are,” Liddle told The Associated Press.

Today, Miliband travelled to Peshawar, capital of North West Frontier province, and held talks on regional security with the chief minister and the region’s governor.

Miliband also met relatives of people who died in recent suicide bombings and other terrorist attacks in the province to express sympathy, a government statement said.

He was scheduled to visit a government department in Peshawar responsible for administration of the lawless tribal regions along the border with Afghanistan.