ISLAMABAD - Pakistan People’s Party co-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari on Tuesday said the PPP was committed to democracy, citizens’ freedoms and autonomy of the federating units.

In a message on the eve of 39th death anniversary of the PPP founding chairman, – to be observed today (April 4), – he said: “On the 39th martyrdom anniversary of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, I wish to reiterate the commitment of the party to uphold democracy, citizens’ freedoms and autonomy of the federating units.”

Zardari said Bhutto gave the country a consensus Constitution based on the principles of respect for human rights of citizens and autonomy of federating units.

The 18th Constitutional Amendment, given unanimously also by the PPP government, was aimed at removing the distortions introduced in the 1973 Constitution by dictators and to protect and strengthen rights of citizens as well as of the provinces, he said.

It must be remembered that the 18th Amendment has the consensus of all federating units and all provinces, Zardari said.

Disrespecting the political consensus and tinkering with it in any unconstitutional manner will be a political disaster, the former president warned.

“Today as we rededicate ourselves to the political ideals of Bhutto we also pledge to protect and defend democracy, individual freedoms and provincial autonomy,” he said.

Zardari said: “All power belongs to the people and it must flow from the ballot box and not from the bullet, is the political lesson bequeathed to us by the party's founding chairman."

“Today more than ever we need to imbibe the true meaning of this everlasting lesson in politics,” he added.

Zardari said Bhutto was an extraordinary leader and innumerable ordinary people who came in contact with him themselves became extraordinary.

“Bhutto’s greatest achievement is that he gave hope to the people at a time when hope seemed to elude, and he lit the path with his blood when there was darkness all around. Bhutto was a beacon of light and hope,” the former president said.

Zardari also paid homage to all those who laid down their lives and suffered in the cause of democracy and in protecting the country.