ISLAMABAD: PPP Co-Chairman and former president Asif Ali Zardari has cautioned people against a new form of threat to democracy, terming it an “assault on it in the name of democracy itself”.
“There is also a great threat to democracy from the militant mindset seeking to impose their extremist agenda by force,” Mr Zardari said in a message on the eve of International Democracy Day being observed throughout the world on Monday.
He said democracy called upon state institutions to work strictly within their constitutional domain. No state organ is allowed to trespass the jurisdiction of other.
“Not long ago there was a perception that some state organs actually trespass the domain of parliament. Such perceptions must not be allowed to gain strength,” he said.
In an apparent reference to the prevailing political impasse in the country because of sit-ins by the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf and Pakistan Awami Tehreek in Islamabad, Mr Zardari said the enemies of democracy kept changing guise and tactics.
“From direct assault on democracy witnessed in the past to the doctrine of necessity to the so-called Legal Framework Order and Provisional Constitution Orders, democracy today is threatened by intolerance on one hand and assault on it in the name of democracy on the other,” he added.
“If dictatorship has not been able to take root in Pakistan it is because of the huge sacrifices of all democracy-loving people.”
The PPP leader said democracy was much more than merely holding elections periodically to distribute political power among parties and individuals. “Constitutionalism, rule of law and tolerance to dissent and disagreement are essential ingredients of a democratic culture.”
Mr Zardari dedicated the Democracy Day this year to the youth of the country. “As the largest segment of society, the youth represent the hope and the promise of Pakistan. We need to engage the youth for the fulfilment of democratic ideals and dreams.”
He expressed the hope that celebrations today would enhance people’s awareness about new forms of threats to democracy and guard against them.
He paid tribute to former prime ministers Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and Benazir Bhutto and leaders and workers of other political parties who rendered sacrifices for the cause of democracy.
Published in Dawn, September 15th, 2014