=> LAHORE, Jan 26: Human Rights Commission of Pakista -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

=> LAHORE, Jan 26: Human Rights Commission of Pakista

LAHORE, Jan 26: Human Rights Commission of Pakistan Vice-Chairperson Hina Jilani has said accountability of the military dictators is the biggest challenge faced by democracy in Pakistan.

Speaking at the world social forum seminar on ‘Military dictatorship and challenges faced by democracy’ at the Lahore Press Club on Saturday, she said the army had been in power directly or indirectly since 1953 and made it impossible for the political forces to come into power and run the affairs of the country without its cooperation.

The accountability of Gen Pervez Musharraf (retired) was required instead of his death or ouster, but it was not possible as long as the military was in power directly or indirectly.

She said poverty, hunger and unemployment had increased during the tenure of Musharraf contrary to the claims of progress and prosperity made by him during his foreign tour. The ex-general should better tour Pakistan to verify his claim and check his popularity among the masses.

She said the refusal of Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry to accept his dictation had given courage to 60 judges of superior courts to stand up for the independence of judiciary which was necessary not only for meeting the ends of justice but also for political, economic and civil liberties.

President Musharraf had criticised the media during his European tour but failed to cite even a single example to substantiate his allegations. She said democracy could not be restored without a political process. The movement launched by the lawyers was also against dictatorship and it should be continued. The general election would not be credible without an independent election commission and restoration of the Constitution and independence of the judiciary.

Former president of Supreme Court Bar Association and Tehrik-i-Insaaf senior vice-chairman, Hamid Khan, said military dictatorship was no doubt the biggest challenge to democracy which was yet to come to Pakistan. Pakistan’s dictatorship was unique in the sense that it had always dominated the politics directly or indirectly. President Musharraf only talked of sharing power because he considered that only the military had the right to rule the country.

He said the military had so much vested interests in governance that it could dismember the country but not agree to part with power. Benazir Bhutto was eliminated not because of being a popular political leader because of crossing the line drawn by the military and dealing with the US directly. The US supported the military dictators instead of civilian heads of state because it considered handling the generals easier.

South Asia Partnership director Muhammad Tehsin said the ouster of Pervez Musharraf would not be different from Ziaul Haq and Ayub Khan. The western countries supported the military rulers to maintain their hold over the developing countries. The World Economic Forum, which invited the general to address its members during his European tour, was a gathering of `international thugs’ with 75 per cent members from Europe and the US. Its membership fee was $1.2 million per annum.

He said the government had alienated the NWFP, Sindh and Balochistan from Punjab due to its policies. He said elections were only a mean to the restoration of democracy. He said foreign interference was on the increase in Pakistan to the extent that they were deciding about the participation of Mian Nawaz Sharif in elections.

Labour Party Pakistan spokesman Farooq Tariq said the people had suffered greatly during the rule of Gen Musharraf. Hundreds of thousands of workers had lost their jobs as a result of privatisation of public sector units and the poor had become poorer owing to the economic policies aimed at benefiting the rich.

He was of the view that PPP could have boycotted the elections after the assassination of its chairperson Benazir Bhutto.

Punjab Tehrik-i-Insaaf president Ahsan Rashid said the armed forces were not only ruling the country but had also become the owners of vast tracts of land and operators of businesses of hundreds of billions of rupees. Women Workers Helpline secretary-general Bushra Khaliq said Pakistan had always been ruled by dictators since its independence. The movement launched by the lawyers against the military rule had isolated the supporters of dictatorship.
Source: Dawn
Date:1/27/2008