Democracy sole answer to terrorism

Friday 28 December 2007

Press Release following a workshop on "Democracy and Tolerance" held in Pakistan with the participation of Alternatives, December 27 2007.

Islamabad; December 27, 2007: Militancy being a byproduct of authoritarianism it can only be combated by establishing a legitimately democratic dispensation. This was the conclusion at an Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (non governmental)(HRCP) workshop with activists from NWFP and FATA on ‘Promotion of democracy and tolerance’ here today.

The workshop began with the presentation of a paper on electoral process in terrorist affected areas by Prof. Ijaz Khan Khattak of the Peshawar University. He said both the state and non-state actors were encroaching on the political space and both relied on force alone. Elaborating on the essential features of democracy, Prof. Ijaz said the people could defeat terrorism and extremism by waging a determined struggle for democracy.

Human Rights activists from Frontier districts and FATA threw light on threats to life, liberty, and livelihood, arising from terrorism and counter-terrorism measures. The system of education had been disrupted. It was necessary to rid the people not only of the situation created by the so-called war on terror but also of the system of arbitrary rule through Political Agents. Somehow the process of democratic reform had to be started. The least the Government could do was to ensure that innocent people did not suffer in the exchange of fire and as a result of evacuation of villages and long exchanged spells of curfew. Militancy was not wholly externally inspired, its roots in peoples culture of autonomy and the states play on Islamic ideology had to be taken into consideration. Some delegates argued the campaign against terrorists lacked sincerity and commitment the situation in FATA and Northern Areas could not improve unless genuine democracy was properly realised in the ‘settled’ parts of the federation

The delegate from Gilgit-Baltistan wished the current electoral process had been opened to his community. The people of Gilgit-Baltistan, who had been struggling for years for democratization, deserved, democratic dispensation and independent judiciary as much as any other people in Pakistan

Activists from Bajour and Swat spoke of the hardships the local populations were facing as a result of disregard for innocent people’s rights.

The workshop also discussed the HRCP stand on the January 8 Election and the need for watching out for irregularities in the electoral process. Some the activists dwelt on factors that could make the polls impossible in some parts of the Frontier.

In the end the workshop agreed on steps to watch the electoral process and document malpractices.

I. A. Rehman


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