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Monday June 24, 2024

Political problems must be resolved solely by political means

By Our Correspondent
March 30, 2023

Islamabad: On concluding an extraordinary meeting to deliberate on the current political crisis and constitutional impasse, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP)’s governing council has resolved that it is of utmost importance to uphold and strengthen the democratic process.

In a statement issued on Wednesday, the HRCP expressed deep concern that this crisis has resulted in polarization across the political spectrum. "This state of affairs was, regretfully, triggered by events that were designed to stall the democratic process and undermine the efficacy and legitimacy of Parliament. One political party first abandoned the National Assembly and then dissolved two provincial assemblies. Others in government blocked the subsequent reversal of this move by thwarting the opposition’s attempt to return to the National Assembly."

It says that despite HRCP's considered view that the dissolution of the Punjab and KP assemblies was politically expedient, the Commission is concerned that these assembly elections have been postponed till October by the Election Commission of Pakistan. "We are also aware of legitimate apprehensions that such decisions could become a precedent to be used to derail the democratic process in the future. While HRCP believes that the Constitution does provide solutions that may legitimise delayed elections, it should go without saying that any such delay should be as short as possible and necessary and proportionate to the aims of the delay.

Accordingly, there must be consensus among all political parties and stakeholders on the rationale for such a delay. They should also recognise that this is an unwelcome precedent and must not recur. The election process must also remain free, fair, credible and transparent, and the results acceptable to all political stakeholders." HRCP noted the judicial overreach in conflict with the constitutional principle of the trichotomy of powers. "There is a need to dispel the impression that, in interpreting the Constitution, the Supreme Court enhances its own powers at the expense of other democratic institutions. The judiciary must safeguard its independence, integrity and credibility. It must resist any urge to interfere in the domain of other constitutional bodies and instead help strengthen all such institutions by giving them the room to resolve issues that fall within their constitutional remit. We also firmly believe that there is no room for threats of any undemocratic interventions." HRCP strongly condemned violent and unlawful behaviour by political elements aimed at creating disorder to further their political agendas.

At the same time, HRCP denounced the strong-arm tactics and disproportionate use of force by the state as a means of political repression." We are deeply concerned to observe that this has involved resorting to the use of colonial laws of sedition, unwarranted charges of terrorism against political opponents, enforced disappearances, and attempts to gag freedom of expression through ill-conceived proposals and actions through PEMRA." It says that ultimately, the crux of the ongoing crisis is political and not legal. "There is no other option for the political opposition and the government but to hold serious and meaningful dialogue in Parliament to resolve this in the larger interests of Pakistan's people."