ISLAMABAD - PPP Co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari on Saturday stressed the need for collective struggle against the pernicious mindset of religious fanaticism and extremism. “In the past our 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,” he said this in a message on the 38th anniversary of the takeover of the country by dictatorship on July 5, 1977.

July 5 is a black day in our national calendar as on this day a dictator overthrew an elected prime minister and later executed him, decimated the Constitution and began privatising jehad, exploiting religion and fanning sectarianism for his own personal political agenda,” said Zardari.

“As the privatised jehad 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,” he added. “On this dark day the nation was hijacked by bonaparts and put on a road leading to disaster and self annihilation,” he said. “During the decades since the exit of the dictator the democratic forces have rebound and largely restored the unanimous 1973 Constitution. However, the mindset of religious extremism, privatised jehad and sectarianism that the dictator’s polices spawned continues to haunt the nation,” he said.

“On this day we reiterate our resolve that Pakistan will have to be a democratic, pluralistic and a moderate country in which there is no place for religious extremism, militancy and sectarianism,” he said.

“On this day let us also resolve that dictators and usurpers of people’s rights and freedoms must be punished,” he said.

The PPP Co-Chairman also paid homage to the martyrs of democracy. “On this day my thoughts also go to those martyrs of democracy who suffered and sacrificed during that black period of our national history,” he added. “Our thoughts also go to those who have laid down their lives and suffered otherwise in fighting the extremist mindset and militant ideology,” he said.