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Civil society condemn attempts to subvert democracy and Constitution in Pakistan

18 January 2013

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Karachi, Jan 17, 2013

Civil Society Statement

We, the representatives of civil society organizations including concerned
citizens, politicians, lawyers, doctors, journalists, workers, peasants, women, students and human rights activists express serious concern at the prevailing political crisis, emerging after the undemocratic agitation led by Tahirul Qadri, a pseudo-religious and political figure and a Canadian citizen. Matters have been further aggravated by the Supreme Court’s inappropriately timed order to arrest Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf in an old case related to rental power plants.

In a joint statement released on Thursday, the civil society activists deplored that a state of political uncertainty and chaos has been created in the country by undemocratic forces. We strongly condemn the undemocratic, unconstitutional, and irrational manner in which Tahirul Qadri is challenging the elected government.

Just when the democratically elected governments at federal and provincial levels are about to complete their first ever five-year term, the undemocratic demand for the dissolution of assemblies and removal of the government are uncalled for and condemnable.

The smear campaign against the constitutionally formed Election Commission and undermining and character assassination of members of Election Commission are also condemnable. We wholeheartedly congratulate the popularly elected Parliament for enacting the 20th Amendment, which clearly defines the methodology about the formation and role of the Election Commission and the formation and role of the caretaker government. We fully support the composition of the present Election Commission led by Justice (R) Fakhruddin G. Ebrahim, an impartial man of principles and a lifelong advocate of constitutionalism, rule of law and fundamental rights.

The role of every state institution is clearly outlined in the Constitution of Pakistan. The role of the judiciary is also well-defined. It is to protect the rights of the citizens from any arbitrary abuse of executive power and act when there is an explicit violation of laws or of the Constitution or human rights. It has no authority to itself become a prosecutor or a source of arbitrary executive power. We emphasize the judiciary should be independent of the executive, but at the same time it should also be free from individual and institutional biases.

We also point out here that the role of the state’s security agencies is to act under stipulated constitutional provisions under the command of the Executive.

No other agency has a right to directly or indirectly support undemocratic moves or long marches to undermine the elected representatives.

We assert that Parliament is the supreme authority in Pakistan and its supremacy cannot be compromised under any circumstances. Those expressing their dissatisfaction with the government’s performance need to engage the state over issues of concern rather than support an unconstitutional overthrow of an elected parliament. The only route to change is election and active citizenship. The current parliament has been elected by the people of Pakistan.

As in a functioning democracy, members parliament represent their constituents’ interests and arrive at negotiated agreements to differences, without pressure from any extra-parliamentary sources. We support the constitutionally elected President, Prime Minister, federal government, all the Chief Ministers and provincial governments. We reassert that the right to install or remove a government rests solely with the people of Pakistan through elections. It is not the business of the courts or any agency or any private individual to dictate or decide on matters that are the sole prerogative of the Parliament and the people. Any attempt to subvert the will of the people would be resisted at all fronts. We urge the people of Pakistan to stand united and firm in support of democracy and to resist all attempts to subvert the system.

The following have endorsed the above statement.

1. Dr. Kaiser Bengali, senior economist

2. Karamat Ali, Executive Director, Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (PILER)

3. Naseer Memon, CEO, Strengthening Participatory Organisation (SPO)

4. Dr. Tipu Sultan, Pakistan Medical Association (PMA)

5. B. M. Kutty, Pakistan Peace Coalition

6. Mohammad Tahseen, South Asia Partnership-Pakistan (SAP-Pk)

7. Zulfiqar Halepoto, Pakistan Peace Coalition (PPC), Sindh

8. Zulfiqar Shah (Hyderabad), Institute of Social
Movements (ISM)

9. Suleman Abro, SAFWCO

10. Jami Chandio, Centre for Peace and Civil Society, Hyderabad

11. Punhal Saiyo, peasants leader

12. Mohammad Ali Shah, Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum

13. Ms. Zahida Detho, Sindh Rural Partners Organisation (SRPO)

14. Dr. Manzoor Ahmed, Sungi Development Foundation

15. Ms. Samina Khan, Sungi Development Foundation

16. Faisal Siddiqi, senior lawyer

17. Akeela Naza, Anjuman-e-Mazareen, Punjab

18. Dr. Jaffar Ahmed, academician, peace activist

19. Mian Qayoom, Labour Quomi Movement, Faisalabad

20. Ms. Saleha Athar, Network for Women’s Rights

21. Ms. Naghma Shaikh, student leader and peace activist

22. Dr. Sono Khangharani, development expert

23. Ellahi Bukhsh, SPO

24. Noor Mohammad, President Pakistan Workers Confederation Sindh

25. Nasir Mansoor, National Trade Union Federation

26. Malji Rathor, Pakistan Dalit Solidarity Network

27. Dr. Riaz Shaikh, Academician, peace activist

28. Javed Qazi, Forum for Secular Pakistan

29. Muqta Mansoor, Secretary, Irtiqa Institute of Social Sciences

30. Mahnaz Rahman, Aurat Foundation

31. Paryal Mari, peace activist