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Karachi

July 31, 2017

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Civil society hopes democratic process will continue

Civil society hopes democratic process will continue

The Sindh chapter of the Pakistan Civil Society Forum has expressed concerns over the prevalent political uncertainty after the Supreme Court’s verdict on Friday to disqualify Nawaz Sharif as prime minister and National Assembly member.

After a meeting at the Pakistan Institute of Labour Education & Research Centre, civil society activists and human rights defenders appreciated the reaction of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and its leadership by announcing a schedule to elect the new premier.

They also criticised the attitude of the major political parties that were celebrating the top court’s verdict against the elected PM, said a statement issued on Sunday.

“Using articles 62 and 63 of the constitution to remove an elected premier is a cause for serious concern for all the democratic forces in the country, because this would promote misuse of such controversial articles introduced during martial law under Gen Ziaul Haq.”

Civil society activists are apprehensive that these articles may be used against other political leaders as well. “This is the right time to do away with articles 62 and 63 by amending the constitution.”

They said the PML-N had a two-third majority in the NA, and it was expected that the ruling party would gain majority in the senate after the elections of the parliament’s upper house in March.

Activists opined that the SC had acted beyond its jurisdiction by disqualifying Sharif, as the parliament was the only forum for electing or removing a premier. They deplored that the top court never punished any dictators, who overthrew elected governments and put the constitution in abeyance.

“Rather, the courts provide legal cover to dictators through so-called doctrine of necessity, and even went to the extent of empowering former dictator Gen Pervaiz Musharraf to amend the constitution.”

On the other hand, they said, the top court had punished elected PMs. They cited the removal of Yousuf Raza Gilani and now Sharif as glaring examples of the court’s verdicts against democratically elected people. “The parliament is the supreme institution in Pakistan.”

They hoped that the democratic process would continue in the country, the new premier would be allowed to work with liberty, the parliament would complete its tenure and the next general elections would be held in 2018 according to the schedule.

They emphasised the need for making the parliament a true representative by introducing reserved seats for workers and peasants as well as increasing the number of women in all the houses. They also demanded meaningful electoral reforms.

They stressed that effective economic reforms were needed in Pakistan, especially land reforms and provision of universal social security to all the citizens of the country.

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