Tag Archives: democracy

No PPP-PML-N coalition please. Both must play their due, constructive role

azizby Aziz Narejo, TX, USA
About a year back it could have been desirable to see PPP and PML-N form coalition governments in Islamabad and Lahore to stop military intervention in civilian affairs, strengthen democracy and steer the country out of the troubled waters.

Continue reading No PPP-PML-N coalition please. Both must play their due, constructive role

Justice Chudhry v/s Justice Dogar

by Manzoor Chandio, Karachi, Sindh
The writer works in daily dawn Karachi and he can be reached at catalyst2pk@yahoo.com
Blog: http://manzoorchandio.blogspot.com/
Justice Chaudhry took his oath from military dictator Musharraf. Justice Dogar took his oath from military dictator Musharraf. What’s the difference?.. As far as Justice Chaudhry’s performance is concerned, I think Justice Dogar is second to none.
Justice Chaudhry worked his entire tenure under an unconstitutional military regime. Justice Dogar worked most of his tenure under a constitutional government.
Justice Dogar took hundreds of suo moto actions, including eight after reading Kawish. These cases related to the violation of human rights, abuses of women and children.
Late BB, the PPP and we all supported the reinstatement of judges not the removal of judges. The PML-N kept demanding the removal of judges which is against the Constitution.
There is a provision in the Constitution that judges can be appointed but judges can’t be removed.
We’ve always deliberated that all problems are created by military regimes which continue spiraling affecting democratic governments for years. The judges’ issue was created by a military government which has domino effects till today and it will continue for years. What is dangerous now that the PML-N are not ready to look forward to make a fresh start?
Yes Punjab and PML-N have right to protest. And there should not be police and army to stop them. For the last 63 years, establishment turned the green of Bengal into red, they raped thousands of women, they killed and maimed thousands of Sindhis during the MRD for demanding democracy and they killed and bombed the Baloch for demanding freedom.
Even during the lawyers’ movement, we saw bodies of Sindhis lying on Shahra Faisal. Hundreds of people were killed and hundred others were injured. But guns were silent in Punjab on the same day. Even lathis were not used. Why this difference?

Continue reading Justice Chudhry v/s Justice Dogar

Federalism and Democracy – Pakistan’s Experience and Challenges

Forwarded by Khalid Hashmani (McLean, Virginia, USA)
“The breakup of Pakistan would be a costly and destabilizing development that can still be avoided, but only if the United States and other foreign donors use their enormous aid leverage to convince Islamabad that it should not only put the 1973 Constitution back into effect, but amend it to go beyond the limited degree of autonomy it envisaged. Eventually, the minorities want a central government that would retain control only over defense, foreign affairs, international trade, communications and currency. It would no longer have the power to oust an elected provincial government, and would have to renegotiate royalties on resources with the provinces.”

Continue reading Federalism and Democracy – Pakistan’s Experience and Challenges

Court ban on Shrif brothers- A Sindhi prespective

A sad day for justice and democracy in Pakistan

by Khalid Hashmani, McLean

It is indeed a sad day for democracy and justice in Pakistan. Even though the policies of PML-N in general and Nawaz Sharif in particular have been anti-Sindhi and anti-provincial autonomy, the recent actions by the controversial judges of the Pakistan Supreme Court and subsequent imposition of Governor’s rule in Punjab should be unfit.

Taking one step forward to restore democracy and justice in Pakistan and two steps back does not bode well for the future of Pakistan. The same politics of agitation and supressing opposition of yester years continues to prevail, bringing Pakistan one step closer to becoming a failed state.

Feb 26, 2009

Opinion- MQM: Perspective and Prospective

by: Jami Chandio

1.Executive summary:

There have been different and opposite points of view about the emergence and existence of MQM in political and intellectual circles. MQM has been calling itself the product of the tyranny of circumstances. And the blame for this was first leveled against Sindhis and now apparently the establishment is charged with it. A great bulk of the Urdu speaking intellectuals has been holding a similar point of view. Majority of the Punjabi intellectuals have suffered from a lack of clarity in this regard. And, except for a few of them, they have been keeping away from a categorical expression, in this regard due to political opportunism. Sindh, so far, has not produced political intellectuals with enough and incisive scientific understanding of the circumstances, whereas, some writers and political circles have been there with a stance in this context. I too have been tackling it for the last 18 years on occasions at policy level. In these contexts, I have never been pressurized by the idea as to what conflicts of understanding could germinate from this. I have always considered it my primary duty to write about the major and fundamental issues related to Sindh. And since MQM has also been an important issue concerning Sindh, it has been among my basic intellectual responsibilities to lay before the Sindhi public my readings on it.

Continue reading Opinion- MQM: Perspective and Prospective

Democracy is the best revenge

By Mumtaz Langah, Edmonton

Congratulations to all those friends to believe in democracy and respect the authority of elected parliament. All assemblies have voted and elected Asif Ali Zardari. Great credit goes to Sindh Assembly where Mr. Zardari’s opponents got zero votes. This is a great slap on the face of beauracracy and establishment. This a matter of proud that after Shaheed Zulfiquar Ali Bhutto, Asif Ali Zardari has become elected President of Pakistan who is a Sindhi leader. Democracy is the best revenge.

From the archive of the history: Mass movement in Sindh- Every minute has story to tell

By Anne Weaver, Special to The Christian Science Monitor

In a surprisingly strong, rural mass movement in Sindh – the first such political movement outside the cities that Pakistan has seen – thousands have continued their defiance of General Zia’s martial law regime. At least 38 people have died in the protests. According to opposition sources, 80 are dead. The opposition claims 7,000 have been arrested or successfully ”courted arrest.” The government acknowledges that some 1,400 Sindis are under arrest.

Driving through Sindh’s interior, where slate hills turn to desert and large tracts of rice, wheat, and cotton fields are flooded by monsoon rains, one is struck by the poverty. There are few development programs here.

People live on the margin of an agricultural economy. One passes through a score of hamlets and villages hugging the banks of the Indus River.

In recent weeks, they have all, in one way or another, protested against the Zia regime or gone on the rampage. They have defied police lines, been beaten back by teargas or a lathi charge. They have burned government buildings, disrupted transportation links, broken into Sindhi jails and court buildings, or engaged in general strikes.

Inside the dirty, overcrowded jail in Dadu, one of Sind’s most violent, up-river towns 200 miles from Karachi, 77 political prisoners told why they were willing to defy martial law, endure flogging, and go before special military courts-martial whose sessions last less than five minutes.

Their reasons for submitting to the punishment are as eclectic as the four provinces of Pakistan.

The province of Punjab, they acknowledge, is the key to the longevity of the Zia regime. If the country’s most populous province, its breadbasket and dispenser of army positions and posts in the federal bureaucracy, does not enter the protest, Zia and his army will probably be able to control the situation here in Sindh.

But, that is not the end, they add quickly. In Sindh, the fuse has been lit. And, if the protest is confined within this southern province’s borders, if others do not join, it will give far greater impetus to the more radical voices favoring Sindi independence, a movement called ”Sinduh-Desh.”

All of the young men crammed into one of the barracks of Dadu’s prison want to speak. They include medical students, provincial government civil servants, workers, shopkeepers, and peasants. Most are supporters of Mr. Bhutto’s Pakistani People’s Party, which has always dominated the politics of Sind. Others belong to the ”Sinduh-Desh” movement or are followers of the traditional ”sardars” or hereditary ”pirs.”

Some are political protesters, demanding a return to democracy and the end of martial law, others are protesting Zia’s Islamization program – most interior Sindis are Sufi Muslims who charge that General Zia has made heresy of the Koran. Still others are there at the behest of their ”sardars,” who have refused to pay the Islamic ”usur” land tax, on their vast holdings, which dominate the Indus River valley of Sindh. Some are here because they went to the streets to avenge Mr. Bhutto’s death. Others are followers of G. M. Sayed, the father of Sindhi nationalism, a hereditary ”pir,” who is the guiding force behind the Sinduh-Desh movement.

Strangers here are eyed with suspicion. But when people discover a journalist , they immediately want to talk. It is not surprising that their primary topic of conversation is their long-time resentment over domination by governments, armies, and bureaucracies coming from the Punjab region.

Protests sweep Pakistan in effort to restore democracy

Courtesy: CSM

Pakistan India Peoples’ Forum for Peace and Democracy: A candle lit vigil

Pakistan India Peoples’ Forum for Peace and Democracy (PIPFPD) & Peace Karachi is holding a candle lit vigil for Peace against Mumbai & Karachi Carnage at Karachi Press Club on December 04, 2008, 5: pm at Karachi Press club. Please join vigil and say no to war and every kind of Hatred.

Nothing in the world that can override the will of mankind: Time to break this web

Iqbal Tareen, Herndon, USA
In USA high un-employment, crashing housing industry, rising consumer prices, dwindling financial markets and institutions, tight credit, and high cost of fuel has taken the toll on nation’s morale. We are going through toughest times of our own.
In Pakistan, although Musharraf is gone but eight years of his dark legacy has left the nation belly-up. At the time when Pakistan is in need of friends, the mounting internal and external pressures are drifting the nation of Pakistan toward a major showdown with global powers. A fragile democratic rule in Pakistan is already facing suicidal blows and threats of military takeovers.

Continue reading Nothing in the world that can override the will of mankind: Time to break this web

Pakistan’s democracy: need for a change in world view

By Wajid Shamsul Hasan

The writer is High Commissioner of Pakistan to UK and former Advisor to late Prime Minister Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto. 

Media blitzkrieg by prophets of doom against largely consensus presidential candidate Senator Asif Ali Zardari has died unsung on the eve of the elections rendering its perpetrators deeply bruised by the backlash of humiliation. At the time of writing this just before the polls not even an iota of doubt was left in any body’s mind about PPP Co-Chairperson’s sure victory through an overwhelming parliamentary vote overly backed by the general will of the people. Not only that, most of the senior columnists believe that Mr Zardari has proved his political acumen beyond any reasonable questioning and that a PPP President would be a pillar of strength for democracy.

Continue reading Pakistan’s democracy: need for a change in world view

PPP and Zardari

One hopes the president-elect would work with other political forces in the country to strengthen democracy, resolve grievances of smaller provinces, make the country a true federation, solve problems faced by the people, improve economic conditions and safeguard the independence of judiciary and media.

The election of the new president should mark the end of the undemocratic and repressive military dictatorships in the country and herald a new era of peaceful, just and democratic Pakistan that belongs to all its citizens instead of few chosen people or powerful groups.

The newly elected president and the prime minister of Pakistan should immediately restore judiciary to pre-November 3, 2007 position, work with parliamentary groups to amend the Constitution properly to end all the changes made by the dictatorial regimes and grant maximum autonomy to the provinces.

Also a “Truth and Reconciliation Commission” should be established to hear complaints of corruption, accesses and criminal, unconstitutional and illegal acts against civilians and military personnel. It is essential that all such cases are addressed to reinforce the trust and the confidence of the people and strengthen the rule of law in the country.

THE DAWN OF REAL DEMOCRACY

By Wajid Shamsul Hasan, London

London, August 14: When I unfurled Pakistani flag on the Independence Day at Pakistan High Commission in London I was overwhelmed by a strange feeling of happiness that I never had before. Every one of us present on the occasion realised that this time Independence Day was being celebrated at the dawn of real democracy in Pakistan.

Continue reading THE DAWN OF REAL DEMOCRACY

Education strengthens democracy

– Mukhtiar Samo, Larkana

Knowledge Centre Larkana held an speech competition on ““Education strengthens democracy” which was presided over by Haji Munwar Ali Abassi, member provincial Assembly Sindh. Major(rtd) AbdulRehman Shaikh, principal SZABIST College Larkana was the Chief guest on the occasion.

The speakers on that occasion said that Tyranny always takes birth in the darkness of ignorance while the light of education gives birth to the democratic values which benefit the society hence it becomes fortified. The speakers further said that democracy with all its deficiencies and defects is yet better form of the government. Unfortunately it is very said to say that in Pakistan democracy has not been allowed to grow its roots deeply because of interference by anti-democratic elements and the low rate of literacy in the country. They further said that democracy ensure the protection of all basic rights of the people.

Speaking on the occasion Mr. Munawar Ali Abbasi said that educated society nourish democracy and only truly democratic governments could be able to address the grievances of the people and solve there problems. He further said quality education ensures many good things into the society strengthening democracy is one of them. He said that Shaheed Zulfkar Ali Bhutto was the first democratic leader who laid the foundation of the democracy in the country for first time in the history of the country. He eulogized the knowledge centre for involving the students in such intellectual discussions. Major (rtd) Abdul Rehman Sheikh said that practicing true democracy is also worship as it was last prophet of the God who set the example of true democracy by establishing a welfare state in the Madina. True democracy is the name of identifying ones responsibilities and fulfilling them so as to provide relief to the people. Prof. Mukhtiar Ahmed Samo honorary Director

of knowledge Centre said that Educational institutions should create democratic trends in their students which will result into generating tolerance and sense og fellow-feeling amongst the young people. He further said that Education enlightens the beholder and helps in electing the true and meritorious representation which becomes the base of the democracy. Among others who took participation in the competion included Shahnawaz leghari, Aqsa Ansari, Sheeraz Soomro, Mohammad Hassan Sohu. The 1st, 2nd and 3rd position waere won by Waqar ahmed leghari, Waqash Kumar and Mehran Zulfkar Sangi respectively.

July 31, 2008

Received via email

Commemoration of 13th Anniversary of GM Syed

London- Press Release: World Sindhi Congress (WSC) has organised 13th anniversary of  G M Syed, who struggled all his life for human rights, democracy, secularism and freedom of people.

Over three decades, Saeen was repeatedly detained in various prisons without trial until his death in 1995. The Amnesty International adopted him as a Prisoner of Conscience.

Saturday, April 26th, 2008

DEMOCRACY IN PAKISTAN

Iqbal Tareen’s speech in front of White House, Washington, DC on June 3, 2007.

Mr. Tareen, presented profile of forces, which are the constant threat to freedoms and democracy. He said regimented, small, clandestine, narrowly focused, and power-hungry extremist forces, which can’t ordinarily capture power without disruptive and chaotic conditions will always be found working against establishment of democracy.

These forces are eager to collaborate with military and bureaucracy (Nation’s most powerful institutions) to act as a conduit creating desired conditions to overthrow elected governments. Under representative governance, these forces remain hyper-active, distasteful, and demeaning to elected governments and are quick to unite with dictatorships to backdoor into power.

Although smaller in numbers but these forces are usually concentrated in population clusters and are located in large cities or in strategically important geographic locations. Through the power of disruption these forces can lock-down major industrial cities thus wreaking a massive logistic and economic havoc on any nation.

Mr. Tareen categorically pointed to MQM and religious extremist groups, which play out this role in Pakistan. He said “MQM was created by Zia-ul-Haq as a counter balancing force against influence of Pakistan Peoples Party. Its one-point agenda was and remains to dilute constituencies of all pro-democracy forces especially the one of Pakistan Peoples Party in province of Sindh”

He said “Arming of MQM and its enforcement terrorism against peaceful citizens of major cities of Sindh ensured suppression of any uprising that might have occurred after the execution of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. MQM was nurtured and groomed by General Aslam Beg, financed by moneys of notorious dons and bankers, and graduated into power by General Musharraf”

He reminded all those who were present in the rally how supporters of dictatorship distributed sweets and candies at the death of first Pakistani democracy under Z. A. Bhutto. It also distributed sweets celebrating fall of 2nd democracy under Benazir Bhutto, and it organized Nimaz-e-Shukranas when 3rd democracy under Mian Nawaz Sharif was ousted.

He challenged everyone present to prove if MQM had ever mobilized mass opinion against any dictatorship in Pakistan. He said that “As a matter of fact MQM has remained permanently embedded into Pakistani dictatorships”

Mr. Tareen said that MQM AND DEMOCRACY IN PAKISTAN ARE MUTUALLY EXCLUSIVE. ONE CAN’T SURVIVE WITHOUT FALL OF THE OTHER.

Expanding on his thoughts, he said “Whenever there is a representative government in Pakistan, MQM demeans and rejects rule of democracy as a rule of Choudhries, Khans, Sardars, and “Waderas”. If you look into MQM’s track record, it has always teamed up with the worst kind of Choudhries, Sardars, Khans and Waderas when serving their client dictators”

He said that “May 12th Massacre” saw a glimpse of a new kind of lord, which is most ferocious and merciless than Pakistani nation has ever seen. He called them “Shaderas” who planned, executed, condoned, and praised the May 12th Massacre in Karachi. Explaining the term coined by Mr. Tareen, he said Shaderas are new breed of city (Shahar) waderas. On May 12th, MQM Shaderas declared exclusivity on city of Karachi. They declared Karachi as their “Jaagir” by denying right of entry to Pakistan’s Chief Justice and hundreds and thousands of his supporters.

Describing a historic irony, Mr. Tareen said “Before rise of MQM, citizens of Karachi stood like a rock facing dictatorship of Ayub Khan. Today Karachi has been placed on the wrong side of history. Not by choice but by terror. Karachi deserves freedom from fear and tyranny. Witnessing Aaj TV and GEO trashed by street scavengers; when we see Pakistan’s oldest and leading newspaper Dawn poured in blood; when we see opposing members of the media coming under MQM-Musharraf fire, we know Karachi is yearning for freedom”

Addressing citizens of Karachi in Urdu, he said “Karachi, we can hear you loud and clear. Your calling for rescue from ransom and intimidation has touched millions of hearts in Pakistan and around the world. Once again you want to lead the nation to a new dawn of freedom from fear, tyranny and dictatorship. You want to join millions of your brothers and sisters in this holy struggle to restore individual and collective dignity in Pakistan”

He continued addressing in Urdu and said “My brothers and sister of Karachi, the moment has arrived to break your silence. Break away from the chains to claim your rightful place in history. Just remember MQM  and democracy in Pakistan are mutually exclusive. There is only MQM between you and your freedom”

Addressing President Bush and facing White House he said “Mr. President you know this era will end and it will end soon. The new dawn will bring democracy and freedom to 160 million Pakistanis. It is up to you to decide whether you want to side with weak dictator or 160 Million Pakistanis? He added “Siding with the people you can seal US-Pakistani friendship until eternity”

Jeay Sindh Mahaz (JSM) paid tribute to Punjab for its leading role for the independence of judiciary

HYDERABAD, March 10: National congress of the Jeay Sindh Mahaz held in Radhan, Dadu district, on Sunday paid tribute to the Punjab for its leading role in the struggle for independence of judiciary and said that it was for the first time that the Punjab had risen against dictatorship.

It observed that during the February 18 elections, the people of Sindh had unanimously voted against the Musharraf government due to his dictatorial and anti-Sindh polices.

It said that it was now the responsibility of elected members of the assemblies to come up to expectations of the masses and ameliorate their lot.

The congress called upon the new government to discard the Kalabagh dam project and announce a judicious National Finance Commission award according to international principles.

It demanded abolition of local bodies system, saying that it was a ‘conspiracy against national unity and development of Sindh.’

Announcing support to lawyers’ struggle, it called for reinstatement of sacked judges of superior judiciary.

The congress introduced some amendments to the JSM constitution and manifesto and observed two-minute silence on the death of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto.

The congress was presided over by JSM convener Abdul Khaliq Junejo. Noted intellectual comrade Rochi Ram attended the congress as an observer. In his speech, he said that true democracy would remain a misnomer unless the constitution of the country was made secular.

Courtesy: Sindhi e-lists/ e-groups, March 12, 2008

Democracy is the best Revenge

The whole country, especially Sindh, is in deep shock and mourning over the tragic death of Pakistan’s finest daughter, Muhtarma Benazir Bhutto, and there is a widespread anguish and soul searching among the democratic and progressive people of Pakistan about the destructive role of military establishment and agencies in politics of the country, the complicity of Pervez Musharraf and his allies in demolishing the democratic institutions, and in fact the very future of the state itself.

The targeted killing of Muhtarma Benazir Bhutto has raised fundamental questions about the future of basic human rights, rule of law, freedom of speech, democracy and national integration in Pakistan. The regime’s authoritarian and dictatorial rule has turned this democratic and peaceful country in to a state of anarchy and chaos.

The whole civil society of the country expresses grave concern on the above situation and feels that there should be a joint strategy for a joint and final struggle to bring this country back to the rails of democracy and people.

In this regard a National Solidarity Mission comprised of 30 civil society leaders, human rights activists, lawyers, journalists and concerned citizens of Balochistan, Pakhtoonkhua, Punjab, Seraiki Wasaib, Azad Kashmir and Northern Areas is visiting Sindh to condole the death of Muhtarma Benazir Bhutto and express their solidarity with the people of Sindh.

To address these grave questions and concerns and to welcome the friends of “National Solidarity Mission” Sindh Democratic Forum (SDF) is organizing a reception in their honour and a discussion will also be held on the following topic “Democracy is the best Revenge”

On Monday, 31st January 2008 @ 12 A.M sharp @ House # A/15, Latifabad # 03, Hyderabad. You are cordially invited to attend the session.

On Sunday January 27 Launch of the Mission at Shah Latif Community Center, Islamabad with a group of Sindh Graduates Association (SGA) 11:30 Islamabad.

On Tuesday January 29 Meetings with civil society groups, political leaders, academia, media at Hotel Press Inn, Larkana at 1430 hours, Larkana

On Wednesday January 30, Meetings with civil society groups, political leaders, academia, media at Agha Jee Hall, Shahani Maohalla, Dadu at 1300 hours

On Thursday January 31, Reception by SDF and meeting with civil society groups, political leaders, academia, media at House # A/15, Latifabad # 3, Hyderabad at 1200 hrs, Hyderabad

On Friday February 1, Meetings with civil society groups, political leaders, academia, media at Press Club Nawabshah at 1400 hrs, Nawabshah

On Saturday February 2 Concluding tour Press Conference at Sukkur Press Club, Sukkur/ Khairpur.

On Sunday February 3, Press conference at Press Club

January 26, 2008

Pro-Democracy Groups succeed in getting restrictions on US Aid tied to democratic reforms in Pakistan

by Khalid Hashmani, McLean, Virginia

Those Pakistanis and their friends who stand for real democracy and non-partisan & independent judiciary would be pleased to know that yesterday US Congress passed a bill that puts pressure on General Musharraf and his cronies for real democracy.

The following are the key points from the recently passed bill that is expected to be signed by President W. Bush.

* Congress withheld $50 million until Secretary of State can certify that democratic rights and independent judiciary has been restored in Pakistan. The areas include are freedom of assembly and expression, releasing political detainees, ending harassment and detention of journalists, human rights defenders and government critics, and restoring an independent judiciary.

* Approved US Administration’ s earlier decision to deliver $200 million annual cash payment through USAID (and hopefully directly to Civil Society organizations) instead of direct payment to the Pakistan government. These funds will be directed to specific projects for the direct benefit of Pakistani people.

* Withheld a part of $250million military aid to counter-terrorism and law enforcement activities. According to newspaper accounts suggest that the language of the bill is such that it will make it difficult that money to acquire F-16 jets and naval equipment.

The Pakistan Embassy in Washington DC, which has very little representation of Sindhis and Baluchis, expressed unhappiness over these changes. According to a newspaper, one ironic comment from an embassy official said that “the government of Pakistan and the people of Pakistan were not happy with such conditionality. ” As if Pakistani people are very happy with the status quo and the destruction of independent judiciary. The details can be read in all leading newspapers including Washington Post at:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/12/19/AR20071219 02502.html

21 December, 2007


Civil society agenda & action plan

By Aziz Narejo, TX

It is true that an overwhelming majority of the civil society wants an end to the military rule and military intervention in civilian affairs. It wants the military to do its lawful duties and not to indulge in politics. It wants non-partisan judiciary. It also wants a non-partisan free press, rule of law, respect for human rights and an unfettered democracy.

It is also true that the stand taken by the majority of the higher judiciary led by the Chief Justice of Pakistan, Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry, a remarkable movement by the lawyers, a just struggle by the media men and women and the increasing awareness and activism among the masses have greatly strengthened the civil society. It is finally finding its feet and wants to be reckoned with but it still has a long way to go before it can play its due role.

In the present fateful situation a heavy responsibility lies on the shoulders of the civil society leadership, especially when the dictator has donned civvies (wolf in sheep’s skin) and is playing a farce in the name of elections. Soon we may have a civilian government working under the dictator and he may try to derail the lawyers and journalists’ movement.

To defeat the dictator’s schemes and to fulfill aspirations of all sections of the society including the common men and women, there is a great need for the civil society to come together, take a joint stand and launch a well-organized and coordinated movement. It is the duty of each and every citizen to participate in such a struggle.

I am writing this as an ordinary citizen to call upon the leaders of the civil society in Pakistan to help bring the civil society leadership on one platform. I request them to host a conference of the forward looking and progressive pro democracy elements to:

1. Discuss and possibly set a brief agenda for the civil society.

2. Prepare an action plan for a struggle to end military intervention in civilian affairs, establish democracy, rule of law and non-partisan of judiciary and media, reach a just contract between the federating units and make sure the supremacy of the will of the people and the parliament.

Why?

1. It is the most catastrophic and the saddest tragedy that Pakistan was hijacked at the time of its birth by the people and the forces that imposed centralism, denied the core principles outlined in the “1940 Pakistan Resolution”, rejected the inherent rights of the minorities in a state and paved the way for a few in the elite to control the destiny of the country. These forces were soon joined by the military establishment that eventually took over the apparatus and started dictating every one else.

2. The country has been under continued military domination for at least half a century now, at times under direct military rule and at other times under military dominated rule. It is interesting to see that the country has suffered the most when it had been under the direct military rule. It explains the ability and the competency of the military establishment.

3. The long military domination of the society has established the principle of “might is right”; it has polluted the minds of the people specially our youth, hastened the degeneration and retardation of the society, nurtured insanity and corruption, created a class of opportunists and collaborators and bolstered the feudalism in the country.

4. The uninterrupted 13-year military rule under Ayub and Yahya ended in the dismemberment of the country while the next military ruler Zia mutilated, disfigured and dismantled all the civilian institutions, nurtured extremism, sectarianism, terrorism, racism, use of force and left behind such deep scars that may never heal.

5. The present military ruler is no different from his predecessors and seems to be pushing the country and the people over the cliff and finishing off the job left behind by the earlier dictators.

His actions against judiciary, lawyers, media and other civil society activists are the most condemnable. Today the country is burning and an overwhelming majority of the people is outraged at his actions.

What to do?

It is the time that the civil society takes a stand and saves the people and the country from an imminent catastrophe. It is the duty of all the civilians to speak up and act. The things can’t be left to just the politicians and the political parties because:

1. The political parties have been severely weakened by the years of military domination of the society, which has subverted the political and civilian institutions.

2. It is simply beyond the much-hampered capabilities of any single political party or even an alliance of several parties to take on the might of the military establishment that it has acquired after the continuous domination of all spheres of political and economic activities in the country.

3. There is a gulf of mistrust among the politicians and between the masses and the politicians. The politicians lack credibility and stand divided and can not agree to a joint stand on their own.

In such a situation, it will help if a conference is called by independent civil society leadership. It may succeed in bringing all the pro democracy leadership together and agree to a joint action plan.

Such a conference should help and compliment the political parties and not compete with them and shouldn’t seek in any way to form a new or even an umbrella organization. It should strengthen the political parties and all other civilian institutions and organs.

We must understand that the fight is very important and at a very crucial stage. It is not the sole responsibility of the political parties to take up the fight. All the civilians, civil society organizations and institutions have to chip in and have to strengthen the political parties and other civilian institutions.

When?

Such a conference should be held as soon as possible. I hope the civil society leadership would take an immediate action on this appeal.

27/12/2007