Leaders of Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) cautioned against the use of religion for political gain on Saturday as it prepared to mark a black day over the imposition of martial law in the country in 1977.
“July 5 is a black day in our national calendar,” PPP co-chairman Asif Zardari said in a message on the 38th anniversary of the 1977 coup.
“On this day a dictator overthrew an elected prime minister and later executed him, decimated the Constitution and began privatising jihad, exploiting religion and fanning sectarianism for his own personal political agenda,” he said.
“As the privatised jihad continues to haunt the nation, posing an existential threat to the country, the need to clearly understand the disastrous consequences of exploiting religion for political ends has never been as great as it is today,” Zardari said.
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During the decades since the exit of the dictator the democratic forces have been on the rebound and have largely restored the unanimous 1973 Constitution. However, the mind-set of religious extremism, privatised jihad and sectarianism that the dictator’s polices spawned continues to haunt the nation, he said.
He said people have consistently refused to be suppressed by brute force and have always bounced back to seize their democratic rights from the jaws of dictators. “We must collectively fight to the finish the pernicious mind-set of fanaticism and extremism,” he said.
“We reiterate our resolve that Pakistan will have to be a democratic, pluralistic and a moderate country in which there is no place for extremism, militancy and sectarianism,” the PPP co-chairman said calling for the need to punish the usurpers and dictators.
Read: President Zardari rules out martial law
The PPP co-chairman also paid homage to the martyrs of democracy. “My thoughts go to those who suffered and sacrificed during that black period of our national history.” He also paid tribute to those who have laid down their lives and suffered otherwise in fighting the extremist and militant ideology.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 5th, 2015.