Islamabad: Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) welcomed the return of former president and party’s co-chairman, Asif Ali Zardari after 18 months of self-exile, with a public gathering at the Old Terminal of Jinnah International Airport (JIA) on Friday in Karachi .
Asif Ali Zardari returned to Pakistan after abruptly leaving the country in June last year following a hard-hitting speech in which he lashed out at the military establishment for overstepping its domain.
In his June 16, 2015, speech, the former president had said army chiefs ‘come and go every three years’ but that the political leadership was here to stay. “We know the country better and we know how to run its affairs,” he had said.
Senior PPP leaders including Yousuf Raza Gilani, Raja Pervaiz Ashraf, Naveed Qamar, Khursheed Shah and Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah were present at the old terminal and met the former president at the VIP lounge.
PPP Patron in Chief, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari also arrived in Karachi and was travelling on a different flight from his father. Earlier, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari tweeted pictures of his father at the airport and also of his departure from the Dubai residence.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif welcomed Zardari. When sought comment on the return of Asif Ali Zardari to Pakistan, the Prime Minister said in a statement to journalists Sarajevo, “Frankly, I am happy on his return. He should come and take over the reins of his party.”
The Prime Minister said he was in favour of political affinity and mentioned “the Charter of Democracy” signed along with PPP. He said despite differences with PPP, Sharif said his party did not adopt the policy of agitation and sit-ins.