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Rights group warns of threats to democracy

LAHORE, Jan 15: The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) and the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) have warned of looming threats to democracy in the wake of developments taking place in Islamabad. The HRCP warned that threats to democratic dispensation had been aggravated after the Supreme Court’s Tuesday’s order against the prime minister. The SCBA denounced Dr Tahirul Qadri’s long march and said the demands made by him were unconstitutional. The HRCP said in a statement: “It is difficult to measure the misfortune of the people of Pakistan as their state is coming apart at the seams and they have been rendered passive spectators to an ugly drama divorced of any justification. “On the one hand we are still pondering over the consequences of putting the fate of the people of Balochistan in the hands of the FC and on the other a certain Qadri has been haranguing an audience with double talk and untruths, raising the veneer of an intolerant, pseudo-religious polity after a march which in civilised nations would be considered a rebellion against the state.” The HRCP said it did not want to comment on the merits of a case before the honourable court but it believed that attempts to regulate politics through judicial hustling had never been fruitful anywhere in the world. It advised the judiciary to weigh the consequences of its decisions on the state whose interest it was supposed to safeguard. “With all due respect to the court it appears certain that the decision of the prime minister’s arrest will not escape censure by democratic opinion,” it said. Coincidentally, it said, these developments had taken place as the people were waiting for general elections. “The court has done much more than pouring oil on raging flames,” it said. These circumstances made the task of the people to preserve the democratic character of the state infinitely more difficult, it said. The HRCP called upon political parties to realise their stake and that of the people in salvaging the idea of a democratic state out of the chaos, because any derailment of democratic system at this juncture would imperil integrity of the country and undermine the prospects of future generations. It urged the parties to join hands and agree on holding general elections as soon as possible “which could perhaps help the people find their way out of the mess for which no party seems free of blame”. SCBA pledge The SCBA has pledged to resist every unconstitutional move against the democratic system. Addressing a press conference, SCBA Secretary Javed Iqbal Raja said Dr Qadri was hoodwinking innocent people and wanted to derail democratic process. He advised Dr Qadri to study the Constitution before preaching it to others and raising unconstitutional demands. Rejecting Dr Qadri’s demand for dissolution of assemblies, Mr Raja said the term of parliament and the methods to dissolve it had been determined by the Constitution. He advised Dr Qadri to go to parliament through election if he really wanted reforms. He said the long march at this stage when parliament was going to complete its term was tantamount to derailing democracy. The lawyers’ leader urged the political parties to create conducive atmosphere to ensure free, fair and timely elections.]]>

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