ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) leader and former president Asif Ali Zardari has warned against any effort to undo the 18th Amendment, saying such a move will be an attack on the federation.
The former president issued the statement on the eve of the ‘black day’ being observed by the party on Sunday (today) throughout the country to mark the 43rd anniversary of the toppling over of the party’s elected government under Zulfikar Ali Bhutto by military dictator Gen Ziaul Haq on July 5, 1977.
The PPP leader further said that all the institutions in the country must respect the parliament. “Parliament is the supreme institution and it is the constitutional duty of each and every institution to respect it,” he said.
The PPP on Saturday announced that black flags would be hoisted at residences and offices of the party across the country on Sunday to mark the ‘black day’.
Peoples Party plans ‘Black Day’ today
Mr Zardari, who has been ill and away from public view and media for months, said some people were dreaming about scrapping the 18th Amendment, saying their dreams would never come true.
The amendment that granted autonomy to provinces, he said, was an agreement between the federation and the federating units and “tinkering with it will amount to an attack on the federation”. He said the 1973 Constitution guaranteed autonomy to the federating units, besides ensuring human freedom.
Mr Zardari said the PPP was determined to stay firm for the cause of democracy, Constitution and supremacy of the parliament and would not make any compromise on these principles.
He paid rich tribute to Benazir Bhutto and thousands of the party workers who spent their ‘golden days’ in jails, faced lashes and other difficulties during the struggle for the restoration of democracy in the country.
In his separate message, PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari termed July 5, 1977 “the most shameful and darkest day” in the history of Pakistan.
He said the people’s elected government and first directly elected prime minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was ousted by the elements who “either vanished into thin air or living a shameful life”.
“The way all the characters involved in it met their fate proved that crime and sin have no legacy. Still, every illegitimate ruler of the time, like today’s puppet, fails to grasp and realise this universal reality,” he said.
The PPP chairman said the Constitution was suspended on July 5, 1977, wrapping up democracy, suspending all civil rights, stopping the process of development and hoisting the colours of the authoritarian in all directions.
He said just by promoting and protecting the dictator’s personal vested interests, the foundations of dictatorial rule were laid through inventing corruption and unleashing intimidation.
“Dictators have been interested in petty personal gains, developing hotbeds of intolerance and extremism,” he added.
He said even today after four decades, the scourge of July 5, 1977 was not leaving the Pakistani nation behind.
“Democracy is still in its teething stage; the ground for implementation of provincial autonomy is narrow, the poor are at the mercy of plagues and locusts, the swords of unemployment are hanging over the heads of workers, the bread and justice are expensive and the poor is getting poorer by each passing day,” he added.
Mr Bhutto-Zardari said the present ‘puppet regime’ was the culmination of the crime of July 5, 1977. But at the same time, this chapter was about to be closed forever. He said the day was not far when the people’s right to sovereignty and the use of religious extremism, militancy, sectarianism and linguistics as weapons in government buildings to perpetuate their aggressive rule would be removed in the same way that many racist and hate-mongering societies today were tearing down statues of fake greats.
He said the PPP had made unparalleled struggle and eternal sacrifices for the Constitution and democracy in the country; this struggle would continue till the final victory of the people.
Published in Dawn, July 5th, 2020