Entangles the Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan as a “military puppet”, Pakistani dissidents blame the military-dominated hybrid system for the country’s crises. “Pakistan is under martial law without notification,” the Pashtun leader and former Senator Afrasiab Khattak said at the fifth annual South Asia Conference Against Terrorism and Human Rights (SAATH).
SAATH is a pro-democracy group Pakistani was co-founded by former Pakistan’s ambassador to the US, Husain Haqqani, and US-based columnist Mohammad Taqi. SAATH’s annual conferences were previously held in London and Washington but this year attendees met virtually. Khattak said martial law in Pakistan was “most dangerous” because it vulgarized and distorted constitutional institutions. “The current military regime delegitimizes political institutions, to the extent that intelligence services direct members of parliament when to attend sessions and when not to appear to vote.”
Pressuring the Prime Minister of Pakistan for blaming SAATH for weakening the country’s international standing, Haqqani noted, “Pakistan’s international standing is being lost because of its policies that promote extremism and suppress freedom, not because of their activism for human rights.” Several speakers, including Rubina Greenwood of the World Sindhi Congress, Owner of Tahira from Gilgit-Baltistan, Shahzad Irfan of the Seraiki Movement, and Rasool Mohammed The American Pashtun Council stressed that various nations in Pakistan were oppressed and denied their rights.
Irfan highlighted that military intervention in politics strengthened Punjab’s dominance and was a key factor in the oppression of national and religious minorities. Greenwood said that the only way for Pakistan to win the hearts of the Sindhi and Baloch people is to recognize that Pakistan is a multi-national country. He said that “Sindh is a historical entity that cannot be separated, or its identity denied.”
Jabeen called for an end to “73 years of political, constitutional, social, economic, geographic and cultural isolation of Gilgit Baltistan” and “autonomous arrangements.” Meanwhile, Shia rights activist Jaffer Mirza lamented anti-shia violence and blaming the authorities for legitimizing anti-shia politics through legislation, particularly the Tahaffuz-e-Islam (Protection of Islam) Bill.
Former ambassador, Kamran Shafi, also a retired military officer, said, “The higher ranks of the Pakistani Army must realize that a truly elected government must exist to take Pakistan from the threshold where the current regime has taken it.” “All of that COAS, General Bajwa, and what the ISI has to do is step back from politics, and let politics be, ” Shafi said, adding that it was “the only way out of the chaos facing our poor country.”
Based on Taqi, military rule has taken Pakistan from one disaster to another. “The narrative of patriotism has been framed around the army and competing world views of Pakistan and those who do not fit into military parameters ostracized as rebellion, treason and even blasphemy.” Prominent speakers and participants at the conference included female Pashtun activists Gulalai Ismail, an exiled journalist Taha Siddiqi and Tahir Gora |, and human rights defending Marvi Sirmed.
In its 73 year history of independence, Pakistan has been largely ruled by its military rulers such as Iskander Mirza, Ayub Khan, Zia-ul-Haq, and Pervez Musharraf. (ANI)