National Dialogue on Challenges to Democracy and Role of Civil Society in Pakistan
Joint Declaration: Any attempts to dislodge parliament will be resisted
LAHORE, January 23, 2012: Civil society representative and concerned citizens (Intellectuals, legal activists, journalists, women, students trade union activists, religious minorities and academia) of Pakistan from all over the country shared their deep concerns over the current political situation and crises, while talking at a national consultation held in Human rights Commission of Pakistan’s office in Dorab Patel Auditorium, Lahore today. The meeting was organized by the South Asia Partnership-Pakistan, to discuss and analyze the current political situation and challenges to democracy, democratic institutions and system. The panelists were Mr. I.A. Rehman, Secretary General, HRCP, Ms Hina Jillani, advocate, Ms. Khawar Mumtaz, Director Shirkat Gah, Mr. Mohammad Tahseen, Executive Director South Asia Partnership-Pakistan, Prof. Sarfraz Khan, KPK, Mr. Jami Chandio, Sindh, Mr. Kaisar Bengali, Former Advisor to Chief Minister Sindh.
Resolution passed unanimously:
We, the representatives of the Civil Society including non-governmental organizations, labour organizations, academia, women’s rights bodies, and media persons from all over the country (including FATA and Gilgit Baltistan) express deep concern over the current political situation in the country where a crisis is being manufactured on irrelevant grounds ostensibly to subvert the Parliament and to destabilize the democratic dispensation. We unanimously resolve to resist all such attempts through mobilizing citizens of Pakistan.
We AFFIRM our conviction that the principle of parliament being the supreme authority in the land is inviolable and it must not be compromised under any circumstances. At the same time we emphasize that the right of accountability of democratic institutions vests with the people of Pakistan, who shall assert this right in the most effective democratic manner whenever the need so arises.
We REAFFIRM our adherence to the principles of independence of judiciary from the executive but also from individual and institutional biases. We also note with concern that judicial processes are being deliberately used for undermining the role of the parliament as the arbiter of national security and sovereignty. This trend must be strongly discouraged and the courts should not fee compelled to over stretch their domain at the cost of judicial credibility. We EMPASIZE that various institutions of the state must function within their defined constitutional parameters and complement each other rather than work at cross-purposes, to the determent of public interest.
We assert that Sovereignty belongs to the people who have agreed to exercise it through their representatives in a federal, parliamentary, and a democratic system. Any attempt at arbitrarily altering this arrangement is tantamount to an attack on the sovereignty of the people.
We DEMAND from elected parliament and its other institutions to attend to people’s basic needs and give priority to people’s political, social and economic rights as guaranteed by the constitution of Pakistan.
We APPEAL to the people of Pakistan to stand united and firm in support of democracy and to resist all attempts aimed at its subversion. The people of Pakistan have made great many sacrifices for the cause of democracy and they should not let any vested interests trample their right to have a democratic and an elected representative system run the country.
We agree to form a national platform for the protection and promotion of democracy and the rights of the people of Pakistan. We PLEDGE to mobilize civil society organizations for this purpose. We will continue to engage with people and all other like-minded political forces in the country, who believe in sovereignty of people and elected parliament. We will hold provincial conventions by mid-February and mobilized for simultaneous public actions for achieving these objectives. We agree to hold a week of action for saving democracy throughout the country and will mobilize citizens to articulate their resolve for democracy and rights of the people.