Former president Asif Ali Zardari’s spokesperson on Friday dismissed criticism of the PPP co-chairperson’s speech in the National Assembly on August 7, which has been critised by some political quarters as being anti-Muhajir (refugees).
While speaking during the second day of the joint session of parliament on Wednesday, Zardari had asked Prime Minister Imran Khan to keep “historical context” in mind while devising the future of course of action regarding India’s move to revoke the autonomy for occupied Kashmir.
He said the prime minister did not need to inform his party of Hindutva’s fundamentalist tactics in India, because it was already aware of those realities. The former president then proceeded to justify his argument through national history by claiming that it was the people of Sindh and Bangladesh who had “made Pakistan” and that those who migrated from India had no contribution towards the Pakistan Movement.
“Sindh and Bangladesh made Pakistan, you did not make Pakistan. You just migrated here. You were just driven from there (India) and ran here to seek refuge. We gave you refuge and we welcome you to stay here, you have a right,” Zardari had said, addressing Prime Minister Imran only as “select”.
“We created Pakistan so that all Muslims can stay here, we have no objection to that. But to think that you are doing something or can do something is a misconception,” Zardari said, alleging that Prime Minister Imran’s “position” was too weak to even think of entering into a war with India.
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In a statement, the PPP leader’s spokesperson, Aamir Fida Paracha, said that some “elements” were alleging that the remarks made by Zardari were derogatory towards those who migrated to Pakistan at the time of partition.
Paracha said that it was “most unfortunate that some elements were deliberately distorting the remarks of the ex-president by putting their own words into his mouth to create dissensions and tarnish the image of the party [PPP] and the former president”.
He said that the former head of state had “never uttered derogatory remarks about any section of society”, adding that he had not intended to hurt anyone’s sentiments.
“Those who maliciously took the former president’s comments out of context should be ashamed of themselves,” the statement concluded.
MQM leader and Minister for Information Technology Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui had taken exception to Zardari’s comments during the National Assembly session on Thursday, pointing out that in his speech, the former president had passed some objectionable remarks against the Urdu-speaking people known as Muhajirs.
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The MQM leader said they were proud of being called Muhajirs and accused Zardari of negating Pakistan’s ideology. He said Zardari’s speech was based on “Indian agenda”, adding that their forefathers had left more wealth in India than collected by Zardari through “loot and plunder”.
Responding to Siddiqui’s speech, PPP leader Abdul Qadir Patel had regretted that the MQM members remained on higher positions and even became presidents and governors, but they still called themselves Muhajirs.