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Pakistan: Concerned Citizens Speak out in Defence of People’s Right to a Legitimately Elected Government

Saturday 23 August 2014, by siawi3

Source: http://sacw.net/article9367.html

19 August 2014

[Civil society’s statement in support of democracy, released at a hurriedly called press conference at Karachi Press Club on Monday, 18th August 2014. This is endorsed by the following and many more will sign.]

Civil Society vows to defend people’s right to a legitimately elected government

‘Nobody has the right to undermine the current system of democracy through political confrontation and violence’

Karachi, Aug 18, 2014: We have gathered to share our utter condemnation of the ongoing political drama created in the Capital that has not only stalled the everyday governance of the state, it is directly challenging the political choice and the system of democracy that the people of Pakistan have achieved after so much sacrifice.

It is an established fact that democracy has not been allowed to flourish in this country by forces committed to keeping Pakistanis in a dark age where they are unable to seek their political, economic and cultural rights by way of civil and political engagement. These forces have either sought to rule the people directly or have intervened in the democratic process covertly or overtly. Their actions have unnecessary created and kept the country, its people, and its resources, engaged in regional and global conflicts
After the signing of the Charter of Democracy in 2006 and the transfer of powers by one elected civilian government to the next in 2013, a healthy tradition of democratic norm was established in the country. The previous parliament achieved a milestone in the history of the country by introducing constitutional reforms, empowering provinces and hence people to chart out their own political, economic and cultural development course. The said reforms were a de facto journey towards making Pakistan a true federation.
The national and provincial governments established by different political parties, following the 2013 elections, reflected Pakistan’s journey towards a mature democratic process. The positive political environment that emerged after these elections gave confidence to the people that the doors for their participation in the political and development process are finally open. However, unfortunately developments of the last few weeks are reflective of the situation that the non-democratic forces are out to undermine people’s choice once again.

It is the right of all political entities to protest and conduct political campaigning to promote their legitimate agendas. However, no one can be given the right to derail the democratic process in the country. The people of Pakistan have battled hard for democracy that they rightly see as the only means of upholding and protecting their interests and their right as citizens of the country. A few adventurous and politically immature characters that are now directly challenging people’s choice of an electoral and representative system were never a part of the real struggles that the common person of the country had to face all these years.

The civil society of Pakistan along with trade unions, academicians, student community and professional societies strongly condemn the undemocratic approach adopted by the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf and the Pakistan Awami Tehreek, and their allies. We strongly denounce any deliberate attempt to derail the democratic process in the country. It is unfortunate that these parties are inciting people to resort to violence and defy the rule of law through following on their so-called civil disobedience, setting a negative culture of political confrontation and rebellion against the state over non-issues.

We are of the view that all issues ought to be debated upon in the parliament and solved politically. Any dichotomy in the existing electoral system to make it more transparent may be discussed in the recently-constituted Electoral Reforms Committee of the Parliament in which all political parties, including the PTI has due representation. We have come a long way from the days of dictatorial regimes and people of Pakistan would never allow the rolling back of the democratic process in this country.

Statement endorsed by:
Mr. Karamat Ali (Peace and Civil Society Activist, PILER)
Dr. Riaz Shaikh (Educationalist)
Dr. Anis Haroon (Women Rights Activist/ Civil Society Activist)
Mr. Saeed Baloch (Peace Activist, Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum)
Mr. Habib-uddin Junaidi (Trade Unionist, All Pakistan Trade Union Organization)
Mr. Maqtida Mansoor (Writer/ Columnist)
Mr. Ishaq Mangrio ( Journalist/ Writer)
Ms. Zahida Detho (Women Rights Activist)
Ms. Naghma Iqtidar (Youth Leader/ Student leader)
Mr. Zulfiqar Shah ( Minority Rights Activist/ Human Rights Activist)
Ms. Mahnaz Rahman (Civil Society Activist, Aurat Foundation)
Mr. Qamar-ul-Hassan (Trade Unionists)
Mr. Asad Iqbal Butt (Human Right Activist, HRCP)
Mr. Adam Malik (Democracy and Peace Activist)
Mr. Suleman G. Abro (Sindh Civil Society Activist)
Mr. Ramzan Memon (Democracy and Peace Activist)
Mr. Punhal Sario (Sindh Civil Society Activist)
Mr. Zahid Farooq (Civil Society Activist)
Ms. Rehana Yasmeen (Trade Union Activist)
Mr. Wakeel Khan Swati (Democracy and peace activist)
Mr. Lateef Mughal (Trade Unionist, Peoples Labour Federation)
Ms. Shahla Rizwan (Trade Unionist)
Mr. Shaikh Majeed (Trade Unionist)
Mr. Jannat Hussain (Trade Unionist)
Dr. Sono Khangharani