QUETTA: Former senator and ex-member of Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar Saturday feared Pakistan was verging on a political breakdown and the people were being deliberately kept in the dark.
“We have become politically and morally bankrupt. Even today, people are not being told the truth, which the country needs,” the politician said during his address at the second session of the national dialogue in Quetta.
The dialogue, which Khokhar initiated, along with other politicians including Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader Miftah Ismail, aims at identifying the country's problems and providing solutions for them.
Presided by Nawab Lashkari Raisani, the session was organised by the Balochistan Peace Forum.
Speaking on the occasion, Khokhar added that the communication between the people and political parties was broken. The ex-PPP leader stressed the need to address people’s issues rather than being engaged in irrelevant political discourse such as the Panama Papers and Toshakhana case, Khokhar said.
“There were discussions on Panama [Papers] and Toshakhana [case], but where were the issues of people? The situation has gotten to a point where if one doesn’t leave the country, they are going to the mountains.”
The former senator lamented that democracy was buried the day when the dictator violated the constitution.
“It was decided on the first day that democracy wouldn’t be allowed to flourish in the country. What did we do to the constitution maker of the country?” he said, raising questions on the treatment meted out to former prime minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, who was hanged by then-army chief General Zia-ul-Haq.
The politician, who hasn’t joined any political party since his departure from the PPP, questioned steps taken to ensure the provision of human rights in the country on the basis of Articles 8 to 28.
“Courts have been given the responsibility of human rights; they, too, are silent and not paying attention to these issues. The society is disintegrating,” Khokhar said.
Speaking about the intention of the national dialogue series titled "Reimagining Pakistan", the former PPP member stated that these sessions are intended to listen to people’s discussions and find solutions for them.
Khokhar, while commenting on the issues of Balochistan, asked what was the difficulty if there was a supposed interest in solving the problems of the province.
“If the parliament can immediately unite to provide an extension to someone, then why can’t they do for solving issues? Despite the passage of 75 years, we [are still not] showing seriousness in solving the problems,” he said, further lamenting about politicians only indulging in “power politics”.
Khokhar insisted on the need for ending political instability for the betterment of the country’s economy. “Parties are willing to do anything for the greed of power. The same conversation is going on in Punjab as well,” he said.
The ex-senator said that people's relationship with the constitution was breaking. “If this conversation doesn’t take place on streets and neighbourhoods, then the country will suffer,” Khokhar said, highlighting their aim to ensure the sanctity of the constitution.
PPP's senior leader Farhatullah Babar, who joined the session via video link, stressed following the constitution.
"It is time to reimagine Pakistan and restore the sanctity of the constitution," the veteran politician said, further highlighting the need to form an agreed charter to reimagine the country.
In his address to the event, former finance minister Miftah Ismail said it was crucial for Pakistan to "stand on its feet" if it wishes to become a respectful nation.
"And if we want Pakistan to become self-sufficient, then every Pakistani's role is important. In this regard, it is vital to send every child to school," the two-time finmin said.
Ismail said that the country should spend more than Rs2 billion on education, while also ensuring improvement in the schooling system.
The former finance czar, while lamenting over the situation of women in Pakistan, said that 40% of females between the ages of 15-50 were iron deficient.
Ismail stressed the need to provide employment to every Pakistan and noted that unemployment was not an issue restricted to Balochistan, but a country-wide phenomenon.
"More than 80 million people in Pakistan are living below the poverty line. As many as 60% of Pakistanis earn below Rs35,000," the PML-N leader said.
Ismail added that every citizen's income should increase. He also stressed the need to promote harmony and love in the country.
Speaking at the occasion, former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi commented on the ongoing tug-of-war between the treasury and the opposition.
“When politics turns into enmity, people’s problems remain.
“It is unfortunate that the economic crisis and failure of politics has reached its peak,” Abbasi said.
He also lamented that there was no forum where issues could be discussed openly, adding that Pakistan’s “extraordinary” situation must be meted with “extraordinary action”. He also stressed the need for governments to actually perform.
Abbasi also commented on the issues of Balochistan, saying that despite having the most resources, it was the poorest of all provinces.
He touched upon various issues, including the issue of missing persons.
“Solution to all the problems of Balochistan from utilities, to Gawadar, is in the constitution,” the former PM said, “however, as long as senators come to power by paying crores of rupees, nothing will change.”
He also added that all stakeholders in the country had contributed to creating the chaos that pervaded and that all must now turn from the blame game and work together to resolve the country’s many crises. “There is a need to discuss the new social contract,” he said.
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