'Majoritarian' state a tyranny: IA Rehman -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

‘Majoritarian’ state a tyranny: IA Rehman

Karachi: It was high time the people of Pakistan made a break from a “majoritarian state” since it had become a tyranny, veteran journalist and Human Rights activist I.A Rehman said on Sunday.

He was speaking at a closed-door meeting organised at the PMA House by “Friends of Dr Sarwar” and the Irtiqa Institute of Social Sciences.

Rehman said that there was a political government in Pakistan in its own right and it had to be supported. He said the big crisis in Pakistan was “religious extremism” and that the people should resist it. He said before establishing another political party, a “political thesis” had to be developed and it should be thoroughly discussed across the country.

Rehman was addressing representatives of different progressive parties and groups, including the National Students Federation (NSF), intellectuals and writers, academics, women leaders, trade union workers, and doctors.

Rehman said it was not the intelligentsia but the political parties that were the engine of change and every citizen needed to be political otherwise it would be next to impossible for him to react.

“Pakistan is the common home of people who live here,” he said. “If they don’t have equal rights, the home won’t survive,” he cautioned. He said all federating units should be autonomous and decide as to which subjects should be given to the federation.

He said everybody should have the right to form an organisation and more importantly, one should strive for the emancipation of peasants since they were in a majority and should be asked as to what they wanted.

He said today the pillars of the state were facing a crisis and the state had lost its moral justification. The question was, how to reconstruct it.

Senior researcher at the Collective for Social Science Research Haris Gazdar said what Pakistan today was witnessing a power struggle between the “political elite” and the “apparatus” and it was time to democratise the former.

The Chairman, Pakistan Studies Centre, University of Karachi, Dr. Syed Jaffar Ahmed, said that progressive forces were not supposed to look to the past with nostalgia but with the aim of looking forward.

Senior journalist Babar Ayaz said it was not true that the Afghan Taliban were fighting a war of national liberation and said that Pakistan should not harbour any militant groups. He said, “We should support the democratic dispensation”.

Psychiatrist Dr. Syed Haroon Ahmed said democracy in any form should continue to function. He said there was a need for an organisation, a vehicle parts of which were in working condition and only after taking such a decision could the desired direction be determined. “We should revisit the general practitioner and harness a health policy based on it”, he remarked.

Eminent educationist Prof. S.M. Naseer said that since the inception of Pakistan, the army had had an upper hand in politics and had never tolerated a political party with a popular base.

“There is an army within the army; there is an Islamic force within the army that has been supporting the Taliban”, he said, adding that today what we were witnessing in Pakistan today was the features of a” “failed state” as described by Noam Chomsky. He said public utilities needed to be nationalised again and there was need to establish schools and clinics on a self-help base.

Prominent educationist and critic Dr. Mohammad Ali Siddiqui said we needed to make nationalist literature a part of progressive literature. He said the agenda of globalisation in literature was different and regretted that the upper middle class in Pakistan were only reading post-modernist literature and that Mir and Ghalib were totally alien to them. “Half of the intelligentsia are now paralysed,” he remarked.

Former student leader and author Dr. S. Akhtar Ehtisham said that Pakistan was created to safeguard the interests of the feudal class and served that purpose even after dismemberment in 1971. He said what we needed today was demolition of coercive structures.

Women’s activist Anis Haroon said we should not live in a utopia and should commit ourselves to secularism and democratic dispensation. She said that to a great extent our future depended on our relationship with India. Unless we build a strong peace movement, we can’t move ahead”, she said. She added that the interests of the “political elite” and “apparatus” overlapped, saying that Pakistan had to opt for new social contract.

Former student leader Dr. Ghafoor Kansi said the system of “inheritance of leadership” should come to an end and there was need to tell people about their rights.

Senior journalist Zubaida Mustafa said she agreed with Rehman that there was a “crisis of state.”

Political activist Azhar Jamil said insecurity had become a way of life in Pakistan. He said a “military takeover again meant “beginning of the end.”

Rahat Saeed of Irtiqa Institute of Social Sciences said the state had lost its justification and we were witnessing anarchy. He said we needed to evolve a “charter of citizens’ rights.”

Alia Amir Ali, an M.Phil student at Quaid-e-Azam University, Islamabad, and a representative of the National Students Federation (NSF) said it would be a fatal mistake if we thought we could bring about a change without taking part in politics. She said the progressive forces in Pakistan were weak because they didn’t have a representative party.

A bouquet was presented to senior journalist Beena Sarwar who was the driving force behind the celebrations to pay tributes to the contribution of the late Dr Sarwar in Karachi. A short documentary was also screen.
Source: The News
Date:1/11/2010