ISLAMABAD - Former president Asif Ali Zardari on Tuesday said that the “anti-women brigade” created by the dictators continues to suppress women, calling for violence, in the name of religion.

In a message on the 64th birthday of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto – to be celebrated on June 21st – he paid tributes to his late wife for “her vision, steadfastness and relentless fight for the cause of women and downtrodden on the one hand, and upholding the banner of democracy aloft, while leading from the front the fight against militants created and nurtured by successive dictators and their henchmen in the country, on the other.”

He said: “On this birthday of the Muslim world’s first directly elected woman prime minister it is worrying that the anti-women brigade created by the dictators continue to suppress women, even calling for violence against them, in the name of religion. We condemn and reject the hysterical anti-women noises increasingly being made by these elements.”

Zardari also asked people to follow Benazir Bhutto in standing up to militants and extremists and not allowing them to foist their ideology through use of brute force.

He said at her last public meeting in Rawalpindi, Benazir Bhutto asked people to stand up to extremism, dictatorship and to banish poverty and ignorance.

Zardari said that Bhutto’s words were the roadmap for the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) to make Pakistan a modern and pluralistic state.

He said that the PPP would continue its fight against militancy and strengthen democracy and extricate the poor from abject poverty and degradation.

Zardari paid tributes to those who laid down their lives or suffered in the course of democratic struggle and in fighting regressive elements.

“On the eve of Benazir Bhutto’s birthday we salute them all,” the former president said.