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Democracy essential to save Pakistan: Zardari

20 November, 2012

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PESHAWAR: President Asif Ali Zardari on Monday said true and real revolution was only possible through the evolution of democracy.

The president said this while addressing the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly, the first-ever address by any democratically elected president to this assembly. He said, "All we need is practicing democracy where there is tolerance and mutual understanding of each others' perspectives."

The president said everyone had to struggle to create an environment where democracy could flourish and no resorted to extreme measures. "Democracy is essential for our survival and it is in the interest of all of us," he added.

The president thanked the speaker and chief minister of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa for inviting him to address the assembly and said it was a matter of great satisfaction to see that the coalition government under the leadership of KP Chief Minister Amir Haider Hoti was nearing completion of its five-year tenure.

"This is a great and noble tradition. This is the spirit of reconciliation. I wish this spirit is displayed always and everywhere," the president added.

The president's spokesman Farhatullah Babar said the president remarked that gone are the days when patriotism was suspected because of political dissent. Patriotism cannot be monoplised by anyone. It is not the monopoly of any individual, nor can it be monopolised by one province or by any single institution, he added. The president said people would never permit the monopoly of patriotism.

He said, "We all are patriots. Let there be no doubt or mistake about it. It was a grave wrong to suspect our own people as less than patriotic. It was equally wrong to suspect Shaheed Benazir Bhutto as a security risk."

President Zardari also lauded the people of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa for their fight against militancy and extremism. He said the people of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa were the frontline defenders of the country.

He said he had come to declare yet again that "we will continue our fight against militancy and extremism to the finish and we will not falter, we will not give up". He said, "This is the fight for our survival, for our values. Failure or retreat is not an option and we will fight till final victory."

The president said the greatest threat to Pakistan was from extremism and militancy. Condemning the attack on the convoy of former Jammat-e-Islami chief, the president said, "We all have to fight against that mindset that attacked Qazi sahib."

"A particular mindset is bent upon destabilising the country and we will continue to our fight against this mindset till we defeat it," Zardari said, adding it was the same mindset that assassinated Benazir Bhutto.

He said militants had not even spared graves, mosques and churches. They had also destroyed holy shrines. He condemned that a church in Mardan was attacked and destroyed by extremists. "We condemn it. The government will rebuild the church and this is a message to the militants," he added.

President Zardari said parliament had been strengthened and attempts to separate the provinces had been foiled and unity forged among them by giving them their due rights.

Earlier, the president performed earth-breaking ceremony of Torkham-Peshawar Road extension project in the provincial capital.

End.

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