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Political parties urged to forge consensus on elections

Leading civil society organisations intellectuals called upon political parties to forge consensus for elections through dialogue and mutual agreement

By Our Correspondent
March 19, 2023
The Election Commissions ballot boxes. The ECP website.
The Election Commission's ballot boxes. The ECP website.

LAHORE: Over a hundred leading civil society organisations, bar councils, human rights bodies, journalists, editors, women, trade union federations and leading intellectuals have called upon all political parties to resolve their differences over the framework and timing of elections through dialogue and mutual agreement.

They suggested reaching a national consensus in the parliament and holding an All-Parties Conference as the civil society is ready to facilitate it as a concerned and neutral mediator.

In a press release issued on Saturday, the civil society said: “We, the concerned citizens of Pakistan, committed to constitutional rule and a consistent democratic dispensation based on smooth electoral transition through a free, fair and transparent elections, have agreed to issue the following appeal to all political parties and legitimate stakeholders, including the government, the Election Commission of Pakistan, the Supreme Court of Pakistan and all civil society organisations.”

It said: “The political crisis is increasingly becoming intractable, which is accentuating the economic woes of the masses. The leadership of the major political parties is on a war path and has left little room for dialogue and accommodation. Before things go out of the hands of everybody, we feel extremely concerned about the kind of existential crises that may have very grave consequences for the nation.”

The civil society, in its appeal, said: “Therefore, with all sincerity and a non-partisan approach, we call upon all political parties, the parliamentary parties in particular, to bring down current confrontational and intolerant rhetoric and sit together to sort out their political differences on the holding of election in the greater interest of the nation, the supremacy of the Constitution and a mutually agreed peaceful democratic transition.”

It further said: “We appeal to all parliamentary parties to hold an All-Parties Conference and sit together in the parliament to find a plausible way out of the current political and constitutional impasse and reach a broader consensus on holding inclusive elections to ensure diversity with a mutual agreement on fair play and even playing field for all in order to give a free choice to the people to grant the mandate to their elected representatives.”

Meanwhile, the civil society has agreed to form an informal group of mediators (The Mediators) to engage with all political parties to start a reconciliation process to forge a national consensus on the holding of free, fair and transparent elections to all assemblies on a mutually agreed time-frame. The Pakistan Bar Council has agreed to host an All-Parties Conference, if major political parties respond to this call.

Signatories to this agreement are Abid Hassan Minto, Advocate, Akhtar Hussain, Advocate, member Judicial Commission of Pakistan, Haroon ur Rasheed, Vice Chairman Pakistan Bar Council, Hassan Raza Pasha, Chairman Executive Committee PBC, veteran journalist Hussain Naqi, HRCP, Akhtar Mengal, MNA, President BNP(M), Mehmood Khan Achakzai, President PKMAP, Dr Malik, former CM and President NP, Aftab Sherpao, President QWP, Mohsin Dawar, MNA, President NDM, Ali Wazir, MNA, Lateef Paleejo, Sindh Awami Tehreek, Liaquat Baloch, General Secretary Jamaat-e-Islami, Senator Syed Mushahid Hussain, PMLN, Senator Raza Rabbani, former Chairman Senate, Farhatullah Babar, PPP, Afzal Butt, President PFUJ, Imtiaz Alam, Secretary General SAFMA, Shehzada Zulfikar, former President PFUJ, Kazim Khan, CPNE, Amir Mehmood CPNE, Sohail Waraich, Editor Jang, Syed Talat Hussain, Anchor Samaa TV, Mujeebur Rehman Shami, Analyst Dunya TV, Khalid Farooqi, Editor Awaz, Asima Shirazi, Anchor Aaj, Mazhar Abbas, Geo, Iftikhar Ahmed, Anchor, Farheea Idrees, Anchor GNN, Tanzeela Mazhar, SAWM, Raza Rumi, Naya Daur, Mustansar Javed, SAFMA Pakistan, Farooq Tariq, President Haqooq I Khalq Movement, Syed Amjad Shah, member PBC and former vice chairman ISB, Ahsan Bhoon, former president SCB, Abid Saqi, member PBC, Justice Rashid A Razvi, former president SCB, Ali Ahmed Kurd, former president SCB, Mohammed Yaqoob, Mutahida Mazdoor Federation, Sheema Kirmani, Haqooq I Niswan Movement, Salima Hashmi, HRCP, Ajnjuman Jamhooriat Pasand Khawateen, Neelum Hussain, Women Action Forum, Farzana Bari, Aurat March, Abid Hussain Abid, Anjuman Taraqi Pasand Musanafeen, Muhammad Tahseen, SAP and member organisations of Joint Action Committee in which there are HRCP, SAP-PK CSJ, DRF, WAF and NCJP among the 34 members of JAC.