ISLAMABAD: Condemning the killing of army officers in a terrorist attack in Upper Dir on Sunday, former president Asif Ali Zardari urged people to guard against extremist mindset and appeasing militants.
In a message on the International Democracy Day, he paid tribute to all those who had sacrificed their lives and endured imprisonment and exile to protect and promote democracy and warned the people against “new forms of threats to democracy”.
“The greatest… threat to democracy emanates from the militant mindset [that] seeks to impose their agenda through force,” he said.
“If there has been any doubt about the futility of appeasing the militants these must be removed by the incident in Upper Dir today.”
He was referring to the death of Maj Gen Sanaullah, Lt Col Tauseef Ahmed and Lance Naik Irfanullah who were killed when their vehicle was hit by an improvised explosive device.
Mr Zardari, the chief of the main opposition Peoples Party, also warned the people against yet another dimension of the threat to democracy.
In the past, he said, dictators and demagogues forcibly uprooted democratic structures but now threat to the will of the people emanated from imperceptible but systematic encroachment upon parliament, the repository of the will of the people.
“Democracy-loving people… must be on the guard to protect the constitutional domain of each state organ and not permit the encroachment on any institution by another,” he urged.
Congratulating democratic forces, particularly in Pakistan, on the International Day of Democracy, he said, “It is a day for all democratic forces to reaffirm commitment to democracy and to guard against direct and indirect threats to democratic order and stability.”
He paid tribute to former prime ministers Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and Benazir Bhutto as icons of democracy and countless leaders and activists of different political parties who had rendered sacrifices for the cause of democracy.
“If dictatorship has not been able to take roots in Pakistan it is because of the huge sacrifices of all democracy-loving people.”
Mr Zardari expressed the hope that the observance of the International Democracy Day would strengthen the pro-democracy forces throughout the world and in Pakistan.