ISLAMABAD/LARKANA: Urging democratic forces to get united and guard against “dictatorial mindset”, former president Asif Ali Zardari warned on Friday against efforts to undermine parliament.
“The days of direct assault on parliament are over but we must be vigilant against the dictatorial mindset that seeks to ambush parliament in different ways,” he said in a message released by the PPP’s media centre on the sixth anniversary of the massive bomb attack in Karachi’s Karsaz area, leaving over 150 workers of the party dead.
The bomb attack targeted the home-coming rally of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto.
“On this occasion, I would like to caution the democratic forces against the dictatorial mindset that refuses to bow before parliament and people’s verdict despite restoration of democracy and several milestones achieved in the path of (this) journey,” he said.
He said the parliament represented the will of the people and served as a shield against dictatorship.
“It must be strengthened, not undermined. We must stand together against all those who perceive parliament as a threat to their dictatorial ambitions and seek to undermine it behind various facades. The PPP will not allow anyone to undermine parliament. Let there be no doubt about it.”
Mr Zardari recalled that on Oct 18 in 2007 battle lines were drawn between forces of democracy and militants and extremists. “Since then the battle lines have sharpened. The battle must continue till it is won,” he said.
He paid tribute to the victims of Karsaz tragedy and said that the PPP would carry forward the democratic and egalitarian mission of its leaders Benazir Bhutto and Zulfikar Ali Bhutto.
The former president asked the people to remember in their prayers the personnel of the armed forces and civil law-enforcement agencies and the people who had rendered sacrifices in the fight against extremism.
Addressing an Eid Milan party in Naudero (Larkana) on Thursday, Mr Zardari said that the PPP’s Sindh government would generate electricity from coal and provide it to people at subsided rates. It will boost the process of industrialisation in the province. He said Sindh had the right to 50 per cent royalty on its gas reserves and the PPP was committed to ensuring that its benefits trickled down to the people.
Pointing to the PPP’s mandate in Sindh and its majority in Senate, he said he had always avoided the point of no return in politics because he did not want to derail democracy.
“We will support positive steps of the government and reserve the right to criticise its negative approaches,” he said. “We have given time to the government to see its performance and whether it serves people.”
Mr Zardari said that a “third force” was pitting politicians against each other but it must not be allowed to succeed. “Our leaders had rendered tremendous sacrifices for restoration of democracy,” he recalled.
He said that port in Karachi supported the economy of not only Sindh but of Pakistan too but the city needed a better security situation.
He praised the youth for supporting the PPP in elections.
Mr Zardari said that as president, he had handed over his powers to parliament to strengthen democracy. He condemned religious extremism and said the war against terrorism in Afghanistan might pose a threat to Pakistan.
Sindh Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah said the PPP had won majority of seats in Sindh because of unflinching support and love of the people. He said that even a 10-party alliance had failed to cause any dent in the PPP’s popularity.
He criticised the PML-N government for its failure to end electricity crisis and said contrary to promises made by it hours of loadshedding were increasing.