Jan 1 rallies across Pakistan in solidarity with victims of extremism; demanding a coherent Foreign Policy, empowered Local Government

Aman Ittehad rally, Hyderabad, Jan 1, 2013

Aman Ittehad , a coalition of non-government organisations and individuals around Pakistan has been commemorating Jan 1 every year with rallies around the country, in solidarity with victims of terrorism and to demand better governance, democracy and economic policies. Here’s the press statement for this year’s rallies, being held in dozens of cities including Lahore, Karachi, Sialkot, Hyderabad, Peshawar, Abbottabad, Quetta, Mithi, Mardan, Loralai, Gilgit and other places.

PRESS STATEMENT 

Solidarity Day 201

Aman Ittehad Calls for a Coherent Foreign Policy & Empowered Local Governments

December 2013: New alignments are fundamentally changing regional and global politics. The agreement between US and its allies and Iran, for example, is a certain game changer. And yet, Pakistan’s foreign policy remains incoherent and embedded in an era that has long passed. Aman Ittehad calls for urgent debate and action to reshape Pakistan’s foreign policy in line with shifting power dynamics. Peaceful co-existence with its neighbours and bilateral relations based on trade must be pursued through urgent and proactive diplomacy. The failure to do so may result in Pakistan being left out of the regional equation.

These demands will be made by thousands of citizens as they march in Aman Ittehad rallies on January 1, to mark Solidarity Day 2014. The rallies are being held across Pakistan, in Lahore, Karachi, Sialkot, Hyderabad, Peshawar, Abbottabad, Quetta, Mithi, Mardan, Loralai, Gilgit and other places. Through Solidarity Day 2014 citizens will demand a fundamental re-think of Pakistan’s emphasis on strategic depth that has shaped its foreign policy for decades and rendered it a surrogate of external powers.

Aman Ittehad, meeting in Quetta, Jan 1, 2013

Aman Ittehad, meeting in Quetta, Jan 1, 2013

The nationwide rallies of Aman Ittehad also express solidarity with those affected by violent extremism. In particular, Aman Ittehad condemns the reprehensible provocations that fuel sectarian and religious disharmony, and categorically rejects the barbarity and persecution unleashed on citizens on the basis of sectarian and religious identities. Aman Ittehad holds the government responsible for its failure to apprehend perpetrators of this violence, and its ineffectiveness in curbing it. Aman Ittehad also calls for a clear roadmap, concrete policy actions and an unambiguous narrative to effectively deal with militancy. The political consensus achieved through the All Parties Conference held in September 2013 is an important milestone, but its implementation plan needs to be clearly articulated, publicly shared, and urgently implemented. Aman Ittehad also demands urgent action to recover all missing persons. It stands in solidarity with the families of those who have endured forced disappearances and kidnappings.

Aman Ittehad also seeks policy attention on Pakistan’s economic problems. The country’s slide to 133 out of 148 countries ranked by the World Economic Forum in 2013-14 reflects an alarming failure of its economic policies. It calls for major reforms across the board including measures to improve economic competitiveness, deliver higher education, and ensure infrastructure growth. Aman Ittehad demands that the government takes urgent steps imperative to improve per capita income, and also provide social protection. It emphasizes that national security must be viewed in a wider lens, which includes economic growth and stability. Policy actions must be taken through fiscal measures that tax the rich and reduce the economic burden on the poor.

Aman Ittehad also demands urgent policy attention to redress internal governance challenges. It urges each provincial government to ensure true devolution of powers and the establishment of local governments in accordance with Articles 32 and 140A of the Constitution of Pakistan. The local governance tiers must be designed with a view that enables the state to fulfill its responsibilities of ensuring access to health, education, and livelihood opportunities, and allow public participation in local level decisions.

Aman Ittehad is a citizen platform that is striving for peace, democracy and justice in Pakistan. Solidarity Day is an expression of the power of ordinary citizens, and a call to exercise their choice and free will. It is observed on January 1st each year through coordinated rallies in cities, towns and villages across Pakistan.

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