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Pakistan Civil Society Members, Orgs Urge Political Parties to Arrive at Consensus on Elections

Over a hundred leading civil society organisations, bar councils, human rights bodies, journalists, editors, trade union federations and intellectuals in Pakistan have called upon political parties to resolve differences and finalise a framework and timing of elections in the country.

The letter is signed by the likes of Judicial Commission of Pakistan member Haroon ur Rasheed, Pakistan Bar council vice-chairman Hassan Raza Pasha, veteran journalist Hussain Naqi, Qaumi Watan Party chief Aftab Sherpao, along with the Centre for Social Justice, the AGHS Legal Aid Cell, the All Pakistan Minorities Alliance and others.

It urged parties to hold an all-parties conference which it has volunteered to facilitate as a neutral mediator.

“We the concerned citizens of Pakistan committed to constitutional rule and a consistent democratic dispensation based on smooth electoral transition through a free, fair and transparent elections have agreed to issue the following appeal to all political parties and legitimate stakeholders, including the government, the Election Commission of Pakistan, the Supreme Court of Pakistan and all civil society organizations,” the letter says.

It notes that the political crisis is increasingly becoming intractable and exacerbating economic troubles of Pakistanis.

“The leadership of the major political parties is on a war path and leaves little room for dialogue and accommodation. Before things go out of the hands of everybody, we feel extremely concerned about the kind of existential crises that may have very grave consequences for the nation,” it says.

On March 14-15, clashes erupted between Pakistan’s ex-Prime Minister Imran Khan’s supporters and police officials who had come to arrest him outside his Lahore residence over his non-appearance in court.

“Therefore, with all sincerity and a non-partisan approach, we call upon all political parties, the parliamentary parties in particular, to bring down current confrontational and intolerant rhetoric and sit together to sort out their political differences on the holding of election in the greater interests of the nation, the supremacy of the constitution and a mutually agreed peaceful democratic transition,” the letter said.

Signatories of the letter suggested that parliamentary parties “sit together” and find a plausible way to reach consensus.

“We appeal to all parliamentary parties to hold an all-parties conference or/and sit together in the Parliament to find a plausible way out of the current political and constitutional impasse and reach a broader consensus on holding inclusive elections to ensure diversity with a mutual agreement on fair play and even playing field for all in order to give a free choice to the peoples of the federation of Pakistan to grant the mandate to their elected representatives,” it said, promising its support in mediating any such effort.

The Pakistan Bar Council has also agreed to host an all-parties conference, if major political parties respond to this call.

Source : The Wire