ISLAMABAD: Calling the trespassing of certain institutions and individuals into the domain of other constitutional institutions a “threat to democracy”, PPP Co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari has asked the nation to be vigilant against the “dictatorial mindset” in the country.

“A subtle and little noticed form of threat to democracy is when institutions and individuals exceed their constitutional authority and trespass into the domain of other constitutional institutions,” Mr Zardari, who has been living abroad for quite some time, said in a message released by the party’s media office to mark the eighth anniversary of the 2007 Karsaz bombing.

The twin bombing had targeted former prime minister Benazir Bhutto’s homecoming convoy in Karachi and killed more than 160 people.

“We must be vigilant against the dictatorial mindset that seeks to drive from the rear seat. This tendency must be exposed and fought,” Mr Zardari said.

“The parliament is our shield against dictatorship. It must be strengthened, not undermined. The Pakistan People’s Party will not allow anyone to undermine the parliament. Let there be no doubt or mistake about it,” he said.

When asked to explain Mr Zardari’s remarks, his spokesman Farhatullah Babar said the statement was quite clear. “I will not like to offend anybody’s intelligence by elaborating on it,” Mr Babar said, drawing attention to similar statements made by Mr Zardari on various occasions in the past.

Mr Babar said the party co-chairman had been very consistent in this regard and had issued similar warnings in the past, both at the time of the sit-in by the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf and during the judicial crisis.

In his message, Mr Zardari said that an important lesson from the democratic struggle was that dictatorship reared its ugly head in different forms and different manifestations at different times.

He said that on this day in 2007 battle lines were clearly drawn between the forces of democracy on one hand and militants and extremists on the other. “Since then, the battle lines have sharpened. The battle must continue till it is won,” he said.

Paying tributes to the martyrs of Karsaz, the PPP co-chairman vowed to carry forward the democratic and egalitarian mission of the PPP as envisioned by its leaders Benazir and Zulfikar Ali Bhutto.

In his message on the eve of International Democracy Day last month, Mr Zardari had stated that democracy called for state institutions to work strictly within their constitutional domain and no state organ was allowed to trespass into the jurisdiction of another state organ.

“Not long ago, there was a perception that some state organs actually trespass the domain of the parliament. Such perceptions must not be allowed to gain strength,” he had said.

“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 (PCOs), democracy today is threatened by intolerance on one hand and assault on it in the name of democracy on the other,” he had said.

Earlier, in a message on the eve of the 62nd birth anniversary of his spouse and former prime minister Benazir Bhutto in June, Mr Zardari had stated that the functioning of all institutions within their parameters was a must to win the ongoing fight against militancy in the country.

“Fight against militancy is a collective fight of the whole nation. It can be fought successfully only when it is fought collectively with each institution performing its assigned duties within their parameters,” the former president had said.

Published in Dawn, October 19th, 2015

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