ISLAMABAD - Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), the main opposition party in the Senate, Monday warned that efforts are being made to derail the present democratic system and if such undemocratic step was taken, not only the Constitution but also the federation will be at stake this time.
When the Upper House of the Parliament met on the first day of this week after a break of two days, PPP also reminded the House that indications to wrap up the democratic system were the same and actions were in the same style as these were in the past to topple the popular governments including of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto in 1997. It said that undemocratic forces were systematically moving and also removing the main hurdle, the media, in their way as they have succeeded to get start an infighting within the media.
The party said that to put a question mark on electoral system and the product of the system to make controversial the constitutional bodies, to malign the judiciary, to say the parliament as redundant as PTI chief Imran Khan is saying and the divide the nation on religious lines are some of the signs that point towards a dictatorial set-up as these were the same before the previous martial laws. It also held the ruling party responsible for the current situation for remaining silent.
Speaking on a motion of PPP and ANP on private members day, PPP stalwart Main Raza Rabbani opening the debate said, “Efforts are being made these days to change the present system so that some presidential, caliphate or dictatorial system could be imposed in the country but we will not permit any one to do this.” He said that by doing so the federation will be at stake as it would be difficult to keep it with its existing shape. Through the 18th Amendment, the nationalist forces of Balochistan had hoped that they could struggle within the ambit of law but any undemocratic step would die out such hope.
Rabbani argued that in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and in urban areas of Sindh as well as Punjab, religious terrorism, extremism and sectarian violence was on the rise and Islam was being used to further an agenda and their security forces would not cope with the situation if their political system and masses do not support it. “What ever the new system will be, it will be a dictatorial system and dictatorships always create centralization and this will effect the process of devolution and a sense of deprivation will prevail,” he said adding that trust deficit between federation and provinces will increase and thus polarization will increase.
“Polarization will cause increase in intolerance and that will lead to violence, forces working out of ambit of law will strengthen and insurgency will increase,” he said. Rabbani urged the need to build a unity saying this was not of 50’s and 70’ Pakistan as this was a changed Pakistan now with multi-ethnic nationalities and diversity.
He questioned what was the concept of Pakistan as a state and replied in the same breath whether it was the Pakistan of Quaid-i-Azam what he called a welfare state or a Pakistan that was later converted into a garrison state and was introduced as national security state. “On what point we have reached,” he regretted. He said that in the previous judiciary, religious parties and ruling elite including capitalists and feudals were involved to strengthen dictatorial regimes.
“Though a systematic method was being moved to dismantle the system and I am fearful because each incident had connection with an other one,” he said. And now a watchdog - media - was being gagged and it was inappropriate to divide media. The signs are clear as these were in the past and there was time that all political democratic and progressive forces as well as all stakeholders on the political landscape of Pakistan should do soul searching. “Because this time not the Constitution but the federation is at stake,” he concluded.
Saeed Ghani said that the government was not visible in the whole episode and it should at least move forward for a patch-up between the media groups as they were at loggerheads.
“It was a serious situation and the government should wake up,” he said and also criticized PTI for its stand what he said it had different stance in the past regarding Geo TV and judiciary. Farhatullah Babar said that Geo TV did not allege ISI for the first time as it had been facing allegations including enforced disappearances in the past. He said the media had been divided and now at loggersheads. “The entire structure of media is being weakened and if it happens, democracy will become weak,” he said proposing for the formation of a Senate committee for reconciliation among the media organizations.
Leader of the Opposition Aitzaz Ahsan opposed the closure of Geo TV and said its closure meant that the whole media was gagged. He also said that some channels were spreading hatred against Geo TV on religious lines that was unfortunate.
The House will continue the debate today on the motion that will discuss the political situation developed recently in the country due to certain reasons.