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Pakistan: call for new charter of democracy to close door of Military take over

6 July 2014

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Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (PILER)
Gulshan-e-Maymar, Karachi-75340


Speakers call for new charter of democracy to close door of Military take over

KARACHI, July 5: Speakers at a discussion programme on Saturday to mark the 5th July Military Takeover by General Ziaul Haq in 1977, expressed concern over the efforts from various quarters to undermine the current democratic system and resolved that in case of any misadventure the people should stand up and severely oppose it. They asked all the political parties and the civil society to sign a new charter for democracy to close the door of any future military takeover in Pakistan.

“We should support all the major political parties that are in the parliament to strengthen and bring changes in electoral system in Pakistan to pave the way for the creation of a truly representative parliament after the next general election,” said Karamat Ali, Chief Executive of Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research at a discussion programme on “Closing the Chapter of Military Takeover in Pakistan” organized by Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (PILER) at PILER Centre, Karachi.
“We welcome the formation of a parliament committee on the electoral reforms and the civil society should engage itself in this process of the changes in the current political structure so that the representatives of labour, downtrodden and each section of the society can get true representations in the parliament,” said Karamat Ali of PILER.

Dr. Riaz Ahmed, head of Social Sciences SZABIST; Muqtida Mansoor, political analyst and columnist; Mahnaz Rahman, Director of Sindh, Aurat Foundation; B. M. Kutty, Secretary General of Pakistan Peace Coalition, political worker and senior politician; Dr. Shahida Rehmani, MNA and Zeenia Shaukat were the main speakers of the programme, where as the political workers, social and human rights activities, trade union leaders and students attended the discussion programme.

Karamat Ali said the current electoral system is a legacy of the colonial period in which only the feudal and wealthy families can find their space in the legislation assemblies. He traced the process of the democracy in Indian Sub-Continent, in which under the Government of India Act 1935, the colonial rulers introduced the democracy by giving voters right to only 15 percent population of India that had either property and tax payers or were graduate.

The British rulers introduced feudal landholding system by providing agricultural lands to the loyal feudal families who had supported them to crush the 1857 war of independence, he added.

Despite their current nature we need to engage with the political parties. “We salute to the two major political parties of the country for their resolve to the democracy,” he said adding that no one has a right to dissolve the parliament, except the parliament itself. The policies of the political parties should be openly criticized for improvement and there should be a democratic culture in all political parties as well.

Dr. Riaz Ahmed, head of Social Sciences at Shaheed Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto Institute of Science and Technology (SZABIST) traced the history of the military interventions in the past and said that the second Caliph Hazrat Umer was the first Muslim ruler who introduced the establishment of Cantonments to separate the military from the civilian population.
He said it is political system that the leaders change their political parties, because in the past many big leaders had been changing their parties. There should be no objection on the family politics, because in the major democracies, the members of the political families are taking part in the politics.

Senior columnist Muqtida Mansoor condemned the murder of BSO (Azad) leader Zahid Baloch, who was reportedly picked up the intelligence agencies and his tortured body was found today. He suggested that the civil society should come forward and chalk out a charter for strengthening of democracy in Pakistan.

He said concept of Pakistan’s creation was not having an Islamic country, but a country for Muslims of India. He said in Pakistan political leadership have also made mistake, which provided opportunity to the Military to take over.
Shaheed Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto made the Second Amendment in the Constitution, which was a big mistake by declaring Qadianis as non-Muslims. After Qadianis, other sects would also be declared as Non-Muslim. He said Pakistan Protection Act 2014 is a black law.

Senior political leader and General Secretary of Pakistan Peace Coalition (PPC) B. M. Kutty said Bhutto also made many mistakes. Removal of a democratically elected government of National Awami Party (NAP) in Balochistan on 12th February 1973 was actually a start of the events of the military take over on July 5, 1977. He said Mir Ghous Bux Biznjo actively took part in making of the 1973 Constitution and on the next day of the passage of the Constitution he was arrested. Later Bhutto initiated a Military operation in Balochistan.

He suggested that civil society should force all the political parties to include in their manifestoes that the party would not nourish the anti-democratic forces at any cost.

Ms. Mahnaz Rahman of Aurat Foundation said religious extremism should be condemned. During Pakistan’s independence movement all the religious leaders and parties had opposed creation of Pakistan, but now they are claiming to be the champions of Pakistan. Those who made Pakistan were actually modern people, she added.

There is no doubt that civilian government can only control the system. It is unfortunate that we call civilians as bloody civilian.

Dr. Shahida Rahmani, MNA said that overthrow of the democratically elected government in 1977 was actually murder of peoples’ rights. She said Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto struggled for the rights of poor people and the Military take over was aimed at sabotaging the people’s rights.

At the end a resolution was passed to draft a Charter for Democracy, which would be finalized by the civil society and later shared with the major political parties.


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Clip from Dawn - 6 july 2014 Newsclipping from The News, 6 July 2014 Newsclipping from The Nation, 6 July 2014