Zardari vows defiance on Bhutto anniversary
An activist of the ruling Pakistan Peoples’ Party holds a placard of former premier Bhutto at an event at the spot where Bhutto was assassinated. AFP photo
Pakistan’s embattled president yesterday vigorously defended his rule and urged the nation to foil “conspiracies against democracy” on the anniversary of his wife Benazir Bhutto’s murder.
Asif Ali Zardari addressed at least 300,000 mourners at the Bhutto mausoleum in his first public speech since being treated in hospital in Dubai. “Today we pay tributes to her. The best way to do it is to defend and protect democracy and democratic institutions in the country and foil all conspiracies against it,” Zardari said in a statement issued by his office.
Bhutto, who was twice elected prime minister, was killed in a gun and suicide attack on Dec. 27, 2007 in the garrison city of Rawalpindi after addressing an election rally. No one has ever been convicted of her killing. Meanwhile, Zardari warned the Supreme Court not to take action in violation of the constitution, referring to a judicial hearing into a secret memo seeking to rein in the powerful military, a scandal that threatens the Pakistani leader. The political crisis revolves around a memo that was allegedly sent to Washington with Zardari’s support in May asking for help in stopping a supposed army coup following the U.S. raid that killed Osama bin Laden.
Pakistan’s Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani also dispelled rumors the government was mulling over whether to sack the country’s powerful army chief and head of the intelligence to avert a coup.