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Democracy can end unrest: Benazir

April 05, 2005

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LARKANA, April 4: As Pakistan People’s Party observed the 26th death anniversary of its founder Zulfikar Ali Bhutto all over the country on Monday, the party’s chairperson Benazir Bhutto demanded free and fair elections for restoration of genuine democracy. The main anniversary programme was held in Garhi Khuda Bukhsh Bhutto, which was attended by central leaders of the party. A video of Benazir Bhutto’s speech was played at the function. Paying tribute to Mr Bhutto for his contributions to the nation, she said that a democratic government could steer the country out of the present crisis.

She said that the law and order situation was deteriorating, unemployment was on rise and there was serious disharmony among the provinces. Only a democratic government elected by free and fair elections could solve people’s problems, she added.

She alleged that the 2002 elections were rigged by the government and democracy now being practised gave a free hand to some political parties and imposed restrictions on others.

She said that the present political set-up was a failure and it had damaged the country’s image.

She praised the late Bhutto for giving the 1973 Constitution to the country and said that even 26 years after his death he still ruled people’s hearts.

“He gave the country a progressive political party which has been fighting against dictators and anti-people and anti-democratic forces,” she added.

Commenting on the situation in Balochistan and Waziristan, she said that army personnel and civilians were being killed because of the government’s wrong policies.

She expressed the fear that a force like the Balochistan Liberation Army could also emerge in Sindh.

The PPP chairperson observed that problems could not be resolved by using force. Dialogue, she said, was the right way to address difficult issues.

She criticised the National Accountability Bureau for what she called its partisan role, and said it was regrettable that the bureau had not taken any notice of allegations levelled by Sindh Chief Minister Dr Arbab Ghulam Rahim and Imtiaz Ahmad Shaikh against each other.

Appreciating Asif Ali Zardari’s sacrifices for the party, she appealed to people to accord a warm welcome to him on his arrival in Lahore on April 16.

PPP leaders Makhdoom Amin Fahim, Jahangir Badar, Aitzaz Ahsan, Makhdoom Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Nisar Ahmad Khuhro, Syed Qaim Ali Shah, Sahibzada Ishaq Zaffar, Nawab Lashkari Raeesani, Rahemdad Khan, Qasim Zia, Raja Parvez Ashraf, Prof N.D. Khan and Raza Rabbani in their speeches recalled the services of Bhutto to the country.

They said that time had come to launch a struggle for restoration of democracy in the country. They appealed to people to march to Lahore to welcome Mr Zardari.