Alarm bells ring over ‘reversal of democratic transition’

Pakistani civil society activists shout slogans as they hold images of assassinated rights campaigner, Sabeen Mahmud during a protest in Karachi on April 30, 2015. Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has ordered an investigation into the killing of prominent rights activist Sabeen Mahmud, who was shot dead minutes after she hosted a seminar on abuses in troubled Baluchistan province. AFP PHOTO / Rizwan TABASSUM / AFP PHOTO / RIZWAN TABASSUM

Over 100 members of the civil society from different walks of life ranging from educationists, lawyers, writers, journalists, rights activists, elected representatives and leaders of various political parties have voiced concerns at the direction in which the country is heading.

Pakistan, they said, is “faced with a colossal crisis” due to “repeated undemocratic interventions and a lack of consistent sustainable policies”.

A joint press release was issued by the civil society representatives, which endorsed a declaration calling upon the democratic forces to stand for “the sovereignty of the people and their civil, social, economic and human rights, including freedom of expression, as enshrined in the international covenants and the constitution of Pakistan.”

The statement stressed upon the “unfettered right to elect their true representatives through a free, fair and un-manipulated franchise must be actualized under a fully independent and powerful election commission, as opposed to the past farcical and controversial electoral exercises”.

The joint declaration observed that “there was no alternative to a constitutional, civilian, democratic and peoples’ rule as reflected through a sovereign parliament, autonomous provincial assemblies, authoritative local governments, participatory federation and provincial autonomy, subordination of all institutions of the state to the will of the people (parliament), a responsible and truly representative government serving the interests of the downtrodden people of Pakistan.”

The declaration further urged the populace to stand for “promotion of good governance, democratic and tolerant culture and eradication of all patriarchal, inhuman and violent practices and authoritarian and fascist tendencies”.

The declaration was endorsed by prominent politicians including Hasil Bizenjo, Raza Rabbani, Pervaiz Rasheed, Ahsan Iqbal, Farhatullah Babar, Mian Iftikhar Hussain, Aftab Sherpao, Sherry Rehman, among others.