Social Forum in Pakistan
Labour Education Foundation seminar report in Daliy Dawn Pakistan
By Our Reporter
LAHORE, Jan 26: Human Rights Commission of Pakistan Vice-Chairperson
Hina Jilani has said accountability of the military dictators
is the biggest challenge faced by democracy in Pakistan.
Speaking at the world social forum seminar on Military
dictatorship and challenges faced by democracy at the Lahore
Press Club on Saturday, she said the army had been in power directly
or indirectly since 1953 and made it impossible for the political
forces to come into power and run the affairs of the country without
The accountability of Gen Pervez Musharraf (retired) was required
instead of his death or ouster, but it was not possible as long
as the military was in power directly or indirectly.
She said poverty, hunger and unemployment had increased during
the tenure of Musharraf contrary to the claims of progress and
prosperity made by him during his foreign tour. The ex-general
should better tour Pakistan to verify his claim and check his
popularity among the masses.
She said the refusal of Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry
to accept his dictation had given courage to 60 judges of superior
courts to stand up for the independence of judiciary which was
necessary not only for meeting the ends of justice but also for
political, economic and civil liberties.
President Musharraf had criticised the media during his European
tour but failed to cite even a single example to substantiate
his allegations. She said democracy could not be restored without
a political process. The movement launched by the lawyers was
also against dictatorship and it should be continued. The general
election would not be credible without an independent election
commission and restoration of the Constitution and independence
of the judiciary.
Former president of Supreme Court Bar Association and Tehrik-i-Insaaf
senior vice-chairman, Hamid Khan, said military dictatorship was
no doubt the biggest challenge to democracy which was yet to come
to Pakistan. Pakistans dictatorship was unique in the sense
that it had always dominated the politics directly or indirectly.
President Musharraf only talked of sharing power because he considered
that only the military had the right to rule the country.
He said the military had so much vested interests in governance
that it could dismember the country but not agree to part with
power. Benazir Bhutto was eliminated not because of being a popular
political leader because of crossing the line drawn by the military
and dealing with the US directly. The US supported the military
dictators instead of civilian heads of state because it considered
handling the generals easier.
South Asia Partnership director Muhammad Tehsin said the ouster
of Pervez Musharraf would not be different from Ziaul Haq and
Ayub Khan. The western countries supported the military rulers
to maintain their hold over the developing countries. The World
Economic Forum, which invited the general to address its members
during his European tour, was a gathering of `international thugs
with 75 per cent members from Europe and the US. Its membership
fee was $1.2 million per annum.
He said the government had alienated the NWFP, Sindh and Balochistan
from Punjab due to its policies. He said elections were only a
mean to the restoration of democracy. He said foreign interference
was on the increase in Pakistan to the extent that they were deciding
about the participation of Mian Nawaz Sharif in elections.
Labour Party Pakistan spokesman Farooq Tariq said the people
had suffered greatly during the rule of Gen Musharraf. Hundreds
of thousands of workers had lost their jobs as a result of privatisation
of public sector units and the poor had become poorer owing to
the economic policies aimed at benefiting the rich.
He was of the view that PPP could have boycotted the elections
after the assassination of its chairperson Benazir Bhutto.
Punjab Tehrik-i-Insaaf president Ahsan Rashid said the armed
forces were not only ruling the country but had also become the
owners of vast tracts of land and operators of businesses of hundreds
of billions of rupees. Women Workers Helpline secretary-general
Bushra Khaliq said Pakistan had always been ruled by dictators
since its independence. The movement launched by the lawyers against
the military rule had isolated the supporters of dictatorship.