Don’ allow change through force: Zardari to people

The ballot should be respected as the instrument of change, said Zardari.

Updated: Dec 25, 2011, 23:27 PM IST

Islamabad: Against the backdrop of a row between Pakistan`s civilian government and military over a memo alleging an army plot to seize power, President Asif Ali Zardari on Sunday asked people not to allow any change through "force and intimidation".

The ballot should be respected as the instrument of
change, said Zardari, who has been facing pressure from the
military establishment since Pakistani-American businessman
Mansoor Ijaz made public the memo that sought the US help
to stave off a coup in May.

In a message issued to mark the 136th birth anniversary
of Pakistan`s founder Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Zardari said: "The
Quaid (Jinnah) believed that any change must be brought about
by ballot and rejected change by bullet.

"Let us pledge that we will not allow any change through
force and intimidation and respect the power of ballot as the
instrument of change."

Amid rampant speculation about the President`s
resignation due to pressure from the military, Zardari said
that during dictatorships in the past, the welfare of the
people "took a back seat and security concerns became
predominant as the country faced extremism and militancy".

"We need to create conditions whereby the welfare of
the people is the dominant concern of the state," he said.

Zardari asked people to "forge unity in their ranks to
preserve and protect their democratic and political rights and
make Pakistan a country where egalitarianism prevailed".

The people should rededicate themselves to Jinnah`s
democratic ideals and principles and reiterate their resolve
to defeat the forces "that seek to undermine the nation`s
founding principles", he said.

Jinnah stood for "constitutionalism, rule of law, respect
for human rights, pluralism and honouring the mandate of the
people", Zardari said.

"We should never lose sight of our national goalpost.
This indeed is our compass in a turbulent sea," he added.
"Let us pledge on this day to reclaim Quaid-e-Azam`s
Pakistan and unleash the creative powers of the people through
freedom, justice, the rule of law and an end to terrorism and
violence," Zardari said.

In a separate message, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani
too asked the people to forge unity in their ranks and follow
Jinnah`s message of unity, faith and disciple to overcome
challenges facing Pakistan.

Sharp differences have emerged between the government
and the army over the memogate scandal.

The government has said President Zardari and Prime
Minister Gilani played no role in drafting or delivering the
memo to the then US military chief Admiral Mike Mullen.

The chiefs of the army and ISI have said there is
adequate evidence that the memo exists.

They have asked the Supreme Court, which has admitted
several petitions seeking a probe into the memogate scandal,
to order an investigation.

The government has challenged the apex court`s
jurisdiction to hear these petitions, saying the matter is
being investigated by a Parliamentary panel.

PTI