LAHORE: Regretting the situation across the Line of Control (LoC) over the past few days, PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif said on Thursday that Pakistan and India were the only countries in the world whose armies were still fighting on the borders.
Addressing a multi-party conference convened by the Supreme Court Bar Association, the former prime minister said the situation on the borders should be normalised through dialogue.
He advised the politicians supporting Dr Tahirul Qadri’s march to correct their ideology. He said he was surprised over the support extended by the parties which were part of the PPP-led coalition government. Under which ideology the government’s allies would participate in the long march which was aimed at derailing the democratic system, Mr Sharif wondered.
He criticised the PPP government for not delivering and allowing undemocratic forces to raise their heads. It was a welcome sign that the democratic system was going to complete its term, but it would have been more welcome if the government had fulfilled its promises, he observed.
Had the government served the nation, anti-democratic forces would have no space in the country, he said, adding that the government had failed to do anything for solving electricity and gas problems. “If the PPP believes in democracy it should solve people’s problems.”
The PML-N chief said poor governance had shaken the people’s trust in democracy.
He pointed out that in every crisis, whether it was the missing persons’ case or the law and order situation in Karachi, the role of the Supreme Court was more prominent than the government. He said the lack of true leadership had worsened the crisis in Balochistan, adding that fair, free and timely elections were the only solution to the problems.
Mr Sharif admitted that removing the Akhtar Mengal government in Balochistan was not a wise decision of his government. He also conceded that the government later formed by his party in the province could not deliver like Mr Mengal. He alleged that the chief minister of his party used to meet the then army chief.
The PML-N chief said his party had played an unmatched opposition role in strengthening democracy. “We signed the Charter of Democracy, but it was later converted into the National Reconciliation Ordinance. But the PML-N continued its struggle.”
He praised the SCBA for holding the conference in critical situation being faced by the country.
Rights activist and former SCBA president Asma Jahangir urged all political parties to forget their differences and sit together to protect the democratic order. She said the country needed reforms through dialogue, and not at gunpoint. There would be no rule of law in the country without democracy.
Ms Jahangir expressed the hope that elections would be held on time and people would defeat anti-democratic forces.
She expressed concern over the situation in Balochistan and urged all parties to come up with a joint agenda to resolve the issue. She said army had no role in politics.
Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party’s chief Mahmood Khan Achakzai said people should resist attempts to derail democracy. “If Dr Tahirul Qadri claims having the support of four million people, he should come to parliament through elections,” he added.
He said people should realise that the army had no role in politics and the country could only be run by elected representatives.
Jamaat-i-Islami’s deputy secretary general Farid Pracha said Dr Qadri’s march was a US conspiracy to derail the democratic system in Pakistan. Dr Qadri was violating the Constitution by inviting the army to rule the country, he alleged.
The PTI’s Shafqat Mahmood, the PML-Q’s Khalid Ranjha and Afrasiab Khattak of the ANP, as well as and lawyers’ representatives from the four provinces, also spoke at the conference and vowed to resist any unconstitutional and undemocratic act in the country.
RESOLUTION: A joint resolution adopted at the conference stated that the process of democratic transition should be strengthened rather than hijacked or abandoned. It said the country was facing grave economic and energy crises, increasing violence and an unclear foreign policy and these needed to be addressed promptly by people’s representatives.
The resolution said undemocratic forces were raising their heads to advance the agenda of vested interests that had ruled the country through force and proxy representation. The conference stressed that the process towards general election should be within the framework of the Constitution and elections should be held on schedule in a free, fair and transparent manner. The post-election regime should be carried out in accordance with the law and in a way that befits a mature citizenry.
The conference urged all political parties to address the serious challenges faced by the nation, particularly right to food, education and employment. The parties should sit together to draw up a counter-terrorism strategy and policy to curb violence in the country.
The foreign policy should be based on maintaining the dignity of the country and trade and peace should be promoted in the region. “The legal fraternity assures political parties that their positive contribution will always be supported, but their failure to develop skills of governance and curbing corruption will invite adventurism,” the resolution warned.
It said lawyers would never support any undemocratic move and resist it with all their strength. The bar associations will continue to make political parties accountable and urge them to serve people rather than acting out of expediency.
The conference noted that people were desperate but despite this they had always supported the democratic process. Therefore, their aspirations should not be allowed to turn into despair or uncontrolled anger.