Speaking from the graveside of his late wife and leader of the Pakistan People’s Party, Benazir Bhutto, on the second anniversary of her killing, a beleaguered President Asif Ali Zardari hit out at opponents on Sunday and pledged to protect democracy from “conspiracies” against it.
Mr. Zardari has come under pressure to step down after the Supreme Court struck down a Musharraf-era ordinance giving him amnesty from corruption charges.
In a charged speech at Garhi Khuda Bux in Naudero in the Sindh province, where Benazir is buried in the Bhutto family mausoleum and where PPP leaders and supporters gathered on Sunday to mark the anniversary of her assassination, Mr. Zardari indicated he had no intention of resigning, saying he would be around to swear in the next government after the 2013 elections.
Hitting out at “non-state actors” who were trying to pit state institutions against each other, he warned those “casting an evil eye on democracy” that “we will pluck out their eyes”. Mr. Zardari said he was under attack because the conspirators could not stomach that he was carrying forward the democratic mission of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto and his daughter. “They are not afraid of Asif Ali Zardari. They are afraid of democracy,” he said.
The commemoration was low-key as the event fell during Muharram. Drawing an analogy from the death of Imam Hussain, whose martyrdom in the battle of Karbala is marked during Muharram, Mr. Zardari declared that Garhi Khuda Bux was the “Karbala of the PPP.”
Martyrdom and sacrifice were the credo of the party, he said, and vowed to fight for strengthening democracy.
Mr. Zardari and Benazir’s children, Bilawal, Bhaktawar and Asifa, were also present .