Representatives of all political parties except the MQM, who gathered here at a local hotel on the invitation of Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA), expressed their resolve to safeguard democracy against all dangers from the undemocratic forces, which, they believed, were behind the move to install a government of technocrats in the country.
With the only exception of PML-Q representative Dr Khalid Ranjha, all political heads were unanimous that military establishment, whom they called ‘undemocratic forces’ in their speeches, was playing behind the scene to sabotage the system. They stressed that no system other than democracy was acceptable to the people of Pakistan.
PML-N President Nawaz Sharif chaired the first session whereas Mehmood Khan Achakzai of PkMAP presided over the concluding session. The participants included Federal Minister and PPP’s Secretary Information Qamar Zaman Kaira, Khalid Ranjha of PML-Q, Afrasiab Khattack of ANP, Shafqat Mehmood of PTI, Farid Paracha of JI, Senator Hamidullah of JUI-F, Hasil Bazinjo of National Party and Rubeena Ashraf of Jamhoori Awami Party. Former SCBA President Asma Jehangir and representatives of lawyers’ bodies were also present.
Without taking his name, Dr Ranjha supported Dr Qadri’s agenda by laying stress on removing flaws in the existing system and empowerment of the ECP which he said was powerless to act against violators of the election code. To him, real issue was the lack of democratic thinking in political parties and their failure to select neat and clean candidates for elections.
Demanding timely elections, Nawaz Sharif asked the people to take a wise decision about their participation in the long march which in his view may imperil the upcoming polls. The PML-N chief also castigated PPP allies PML-Q and MQM for their double standard as he said they were supporting Qadri’s long march while remaining in the government against which the march was going to be held. Criticising Deputy Prime Minister Ch Pervez Elahi, he said it was strange to see him encouraging a march against his own government.
Nawaz, however, held the PPP-led coalition government as a whole responsible for the current state of affairs. There would have been no need to hold this conference had the federal government delivered to the people,” he remarked, adding it was shameful for the politicians if the democratic governments fail to deliver.
He said he always supported democracy by cooperating with PPP but they betrayed him every time. He said people had lost their confidence in state institutions because of poor governance which was manifest from shortage of electricity and gas. He talked about govern failure in missing persons’ cases, and violence in Karachi and Balochistan, and lauded the role of Supreme Court.
Qamar Zaman Kaira said that attack on politics was in fact attack on state. “Only a strong democracy can strengthen Pakistan.” He said that history was testimony to the fact that derailment of democracy always weakened the state. Kaira said that all political parties who participated in 2008 general elections were in power but only the PPP was being held accountable for all the ills.
Mehmood Achakzai came down hard on the establishment for its enmity with the democracy. Opposing the idea of putting in place a government of technocrats for a longer period, Achakzai said that technocrats had always looted the country. In the present day world, he said, there was no room for dictatorial rule and democracy was the only suitable system. He asserted that there should be no role of agencies in politics.
PTI’s Shafqat Mehmood said the country did not need economists from the World Bank. He said democracy had its problems like dynastic politics but they should be addressed while remaining within its folds.
“The solution to problems in democracy lies in more democracy,” he maintained.
Afrasiab Khattack said that that there was no provision in the constitution for a prolonged caretaker set up. “Zia introduced articles 62, 63 only to have a hanging sword on democracy,” he said as he mocked the idea of judging the candidates on the yardstick as provided in these articles.
Farid Paracha in his speech remarked: “ABC of democracy never reached to its XYZ as GHQ falls between them.” He was confident that Qadri’s long march would pave the way for unconstitutional steps and encourage dictatorial forces.