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Monday July 15, 2024

Ex-defence secretary launches effort for reconciliation

Further demands are that the police and district administration should not be employed to harass political opponents

By Ansar Abbasi
April 30, 2024
Former Secretary Defence Lt-General (R) Naeem Khalid Lodhi. — X/@naeemlodhi53/File
Former Secretary Defence Lt-General (R) Naeem Khalid Lodhi. — X/@naeemlodhi53/File

ISLAMABAD: Aiming for immediate political and institutional reconciliation, former defence secretary Lt-Gen (r) Naeem Lodhi has proposed an end to incendiary discourse against institutions, an end to political persecution, and allowing the present government at least two years to deliver.

Talking to The News here on Monday, the retired general said that even if the involved parties initially seem to be non-compromising, sincere groups and individuals should -- for the sake of the country and its poverty-stricken people -- not get deterred by the enormity of the seemingly impossible task.

He said that he had the support of some political figures but would disclose the names of those joining the effort once the group is complete.

Gen Lodhi, who is in touch with two former federal ministers for the reconciliation effort, is inviting more people to join the group. He demands an extraordinary meeting of the National Security Committee with a special invitation to the CJP, heads of major political parties, prominent personalities from the media and business community etc to discuss reconciliation.

His demands include a call for an immediate cessation of all kinds of rabble-rousing and aggressive stances against rival political groups and institutions; a halt and reversal to all political persecutions by the government and others; for the judiciary and tribunals to be free to dispense speedy justice related to politically motivated trials and appeals related to election complaints.

Further demands are that the police and district administration should not be employed to harass political opponents; the present governments, federal and provincial, be given at least two trouble-free years (till the end of 2025) to deliver; those who don’t accept the election results may remain peaceful and under protest accept the present governments for this stipulated interim period; their silent protests be allowed to manifest through benign non-violent acts like wearing black armbands etc; and no street protests or large-scale demonstrations for these two years except approved gatherings for organizational purposes.

Gen Lodhi said that two realities must be understood. First, no political group can change the entire state apparatus. Second, the state cannot suppress the voice and wishes of a large chunk of society.

He warned that we have no time to continue on this collision course without facing grave economic, security and political consequences. He added: “Let it be known to all, that despite the hush-hush environment, there were people from all walks of life (media, judiciary, administration, the business community, lawyers, students, veterans etc) who raised their voices pointing at the ominous gathering of the impending storm”.