Zardari shoe thrower justifies his London action (Exclusive ANI Interview)

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London, Aug.11 (ANI): Shameen Khan, the man who claimed to have hurled a shoe at Pakistan's President Asif Ali Zardari during his recent visit to London, has justified his action, by saying it was a befitting welcome to a leader who in his eyes, has failed on all fronts.

Khan, an activist of the Pakistan Peoples Party in the United Kingdom, hurled the shoe at Zardari during a party meeting in Birmingham, to protest against his visit at a time when floods have killed at least 1600 people in Pakistan.

"At this moment, there was no need for him to be here (in London). The whole of Pakistan was telling him not to go, even we, here in UK, did not want him to come here, because right now, the country needed him there. This thing got me enraged, fomented my emotions, and this, was the only means of protest available in front of me at that time," Khan told ANI in an exclusive interview at his house in London.

Even though presidential aides denied the incident, Khan claimed that Zardari narrowly eascaped being hit by the shoe that he had hurled, after which he was whisked away by security personnel.

"Leaders like these should get a reception like this, all over the world. (Q. Why?) Because these are the traitors who are ruling all over the world," said an irate Khan, who is now being hailed as a hero by Pakistani diaspora in United Kingdom.

Zardari, the widower of assassinated former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, and whose rule has been mired in controversy, enraged his critics by going ahead with his visits to Britain and France, even as the flood-related catastrophe was unfolding.

On being asked whether he had defied his party co-chairman by his desperate action, Khan replied that he did not think Zardari was the chairman of the party he believed in.

"No, he (Zardari) is not the chairman of the party (Pakistan People's Party) I knew. I know Zulfikar Ali Bhutto's party, I knew Benazir Bhutto's party and I knew their characters, I knew their ideas, I am following their ideas, and, I have belief in their ideas by which the country could be turned into a different kind of state, which we all want, a peaceful state. But these people are dragging us into chaos. And because of these corrupt leaders, we are suffering, we all are suffering," said Khan.

He also vented his ire on the leadership of Pakistan, asserting that the leaders of the country are responsible for the mess the country is in.

He also revealed his frustration by saying that the people of Pakistan are fed up of Zardari's hollow words.

"The day he took over, he said something else, he is doing something else....we want to see some action, we don't want to hear any talks. We have heard these talks a lot, now the nation wants to see action from our leaders, from our management, relief from all the difficulties we have, we want action. We don't need talking all the time, doing nothing. We are fed up, the nation is fed up," said Khan.

U.N. Secretary-General's special envoy for assistance to Pakistan, Jean-Maurice Ripert had recently said that the current flood in Pakistan was the worst natural disaster the country has ever faced.

A UN report has described the flood as being far worse than than the December 26, 2004 Asian Tsunami, the October 8, 2005 earthquake in Pakistan-administered Kashmir and the January 13, 2010 earthquake in Haiti.

The military has taken the lead in relief efforts while the government is under fire for a perceived sluggish response.

While the crisis has reinforced the faith Pakistanis have in the ability of their military, analysts say the armed forces would not try to take over the country, as they have vowed to stay out of politics and are busy fighting militants. By Cynthia Chandran (ANI)

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