Qureshi pleads to be given reasons for his removal as FM

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Rezaul H Laskar

Islamabad, Feb 14 (PTI) Apparently stung by his ownruling PPP''s stonewalling, former minister Shah MahmoodQureshi has pleaded with the leadership for reasons fordivesting him of the key portfolio of the foreign minister.

Claiming that his heart was "broken" by the treatmentmeted out to him by the Pakistan People''s Party leadership,Qureshi has said what were his mistakes.

"My heart is broken. I have gone and pleaded with theleadership. I have asked please, please tell me why I am notbeing given the portfolio of the foreign minister? I haveasked them what is my mistake? I need to know. I am not abovescrutiny, but what wrong did I commit?" Qureshi asked.

Qureshi said he was also "absolutely devastated" bycriticism from Information Minister Firdous Ashiq Awan, whohad linked his refusal to join the cabinet with an arrestwarrant issued by a court against former President PervezMusharraf in connection with Benazir Bhutto''s assassination.

Awan has sought to imply that Qureshi wants to "save"Musharraf and that he is a "personal friend" of the formermilitary ruler.

"I cannot believe this. It is extremely sad that thisis coming from someone who was recently with the (PML-Q). Infact, let the records speak for themselves," Qureshi told TheNews daily.

Qureshi skipped the swearing-in ceremony for the newcabinet on Friday after he learnt he would not be reallocatedthe foreign affairs portfolio.

His subsequent comment to the media that a US officialarrested for killing two Pakistani men did not have diplomaticimmunity has also angered the PPP''s top leadership.

The former minister said the advice he received fromhis legal team and senior officials at the Foreign Office wasthat US official Raymond Davis did not enjoy unlimitedimmunity under the law.

"How could I (say he had immunity) when the officialrecord did not certify Davis? How could he be handed over tothe Americans?" he asked.

Qureshi refuted media reports that he did not attenda meeting between the President and a US Congressionaldelegation that had demanded the release of Davis.

"This is not correct.I was there and I told them thatthey are mishandling the issue. All this is a matter ofrecord," he said. .

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