‘Don’t fall into the memo trap’


Thirty-four representatives of the civil society including nongovernmental organisations, labour organisations, the academia, women’s rights bodies and the media have expressed concern over the so-called “Memogate”, which they consider as “a crisis being manufactured on frivolous grounds”.
“This [crisis] has the potential of subverting the democratically-elected parliament and the constitution,” they added.
In a joint statement issued on Saturday, key civil society activists appealed to the people of Pakistan to stand united in support of democracy and resist all attempts aimed at its subversion.
They said people have made many sacrifices for the cause of democracy and they should not let those with vested interests trample their right to have an elected representative system run the country.
“We believe that any attack on the sovereignty of the people will be unjust. It will lead to conflict and must be resisted,” they said in the joint statement.
They further said: “It is time to hold accountable all those conspiring against democracy and the sovereignty of the people. Sovereignty belongs to the people who have agreed to exercise it through their representatives in a federal, parliamentary and a democratic system. Any attempt at arbitrarily altering this arrangement is tantamount to an attack on the sovereignty of the people,” they added.
They pointed out that various institutions of the state are supposed to function within their defined constitutional parameters and complement each other, but they seem to be working at cross-purposes.
“We emphasise that the role of political parties and political leaders is to represent their constituents’ interests and arrive at negotiated agreements to differences in agreed political forums.”
They said that the role of state’s security organisations is to serve the people through stipulated constitutional arrangements, under the command of the executive, and not to define what is or is not in the national interest.
The role of the judiciary is to protect the rights of the citizens from arbitrary abuse of executive power, and not to itself become a source of arbitrary executive power.
The role of the mass media is to help citizens hold powerful interests groups within and outside the state to promote their legitimate interests and hold violators of rights accountable and not to act as an unaccountable interest group.
They said in their opinion, the parliament is the appropriate forum to discuss and investigate this issue.
The signatories of the statement were: Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research Executive Director Karamat Ali, Pakistan Peace Coalition Secretary BM Kutty, senior economist Dr Kaisar Bengali, Pakistan Mental Health Association president Dr Haroon Ahmed, independent economist Haris Gazdar, senior development economist Dr Aly Ercelan, Saiban Chairman Tasneem Ahmed Siddiqui, architect and urban planner Arif Hassan, former president of the Pakistan Medical Association Dr Badar Siddiqui, Sindh University Teachers Association President Prof Arfana Mallah, industrialist Nazim F Haji, Dr Jaffar Ahmed of the Irtiqa Institute of Social Science, South Asia Partnership Pakistan Executive Director Mohammad Tahseen, Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum Chairperson Mohammad Ali Shah, Sustainable Development Policy Institute Executive Director Dr Abid Qayoum Suleri, Strengthening Participatory Organisation Chief Executive Naseer Memon, Centre for Peace and Civil Society Executive Director Jami Chandio, Sungi Development Foundation Executive Director Samina Khan, Aurat Foundation Regional Director Mehnaz Rehman, Zulfiqar Halepoto of the Sindh Democratic Forum, Awami Jamhoori Party President Abrar Qazi, Zulfiqar Shah of the Institute for Social Movements Pakistan, Jaffar Memon of the We Journalists, independent journalist Ishaq Mangrio, BLLF Executive Member Ghulam Fatima, Sindh Hari Porhiat Council President Punhal Saryo, Society for the Protection of the Rights of the Child Executive Director Arshad Mehmood, Sahara Development Foundation Executive Director Qamar Hayat, Sheema Kermani of the Tehreek-e-Niswa, Sheen Farukh of the Inter Press Communications, development consultant Haris Khaliq and Labour Party Pakistan spokesperson Farooq Tariq.