ISLAMABAD  - President Asif Ali Zardari has said the best tribute to Zulfikar Ali Bhutto is to follow in his footsteps, strengthen democracy in the country and empower the people by lifting them from hopelessness, poverty and deprivation.

In a message on the 84th birth anniversary of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto to be marked today (January 5) across the country, Zardari felicitated the PPP workers and reiterated determination to tread on the path illumined by their leader. The president said Bhutto believed in dialogue and negotiations to resolve the political issues instead of force.  Zardari said Bhutto, applying negotiations as his principle tool recovered the territory lost in 1971, brought back war prisoners and prevented the war trials of the military officers to protect the country’s honour and name.

He mentioned the Simla Accord that brought longest spell of peace between India and Pakistan which also stands as a lasting monument to Bhutto’s negotiating skills. The present democratic government also believes in pursuing the model of negotiations for lasting peace and stability in the region, he added. The president said the govt also restored the 1973 Constitution through dialogue and negotiations with all political forces.

He said, “On this day, our heads bow in gratitude for restoring the Constitution that was first given to the people by the party founder father with the help and support of political forces of the time.” “Bhutto awakened the people and gave them voice which no dictatorship has been able to stifle,” he said, adding that the present government was also determined not to let the dark forces of dictatorship stifle the voice of the people.

He said Bhutto led the fight for democracy and people’s emancipation from the front and even laid down his life to join the ranks of immortals. He said Bhutto was “Pakistan’s moderniser” who left deep footprints in the sands of history.

“Bhutto was a thinker, a friend of the poor and a fearless leader who refused to bow to any man,” he said. The PPP co-chairman asked his party workers to rededicate themselves to the ideals of Bhutto on this day of his birth anniversary to tell the world that Bhutto still lives in the hearts and minds of the people and, from his grave, haunts the enemies of democracy.