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Statement of concern for Pakistan democratic process, safety of human rights defenders

Thursday 5 January 2012

Citizens and friends of Pakistan express concern for Pakistan democratic process, safety of human rights defenders

We, the undersigned, express our grave concern that Pakistani human
rights defenders are being threatened and intimidated for their stance
in the ‘memogate’ case. We are also concerned at the danger this
crisis poses to Pakistan’s democratic political process that had taken
a step forward with the elections of 2008.

No elected civilian government in Pakistan has yet completed its
tenure and handed over power to the next government following
democratic elections. If the current government manages to do this, it
will be a first step in an ongoing process that is essential to
Pakistan’s peace, progress and prosperity in the long run.

Those under threat include former Ambassador of Pakistan to the US,
Husain Haqqani, who returned to Pakistan and tendered his resignation
in order to ensure a free and fair inquiry into the ‘memogate’ matter
that he is accused of engineering.

The so-called ‘memogate’ affair revolves around a letter that Amb
Haqqani is accused of sending to then US Chairman Joint Chiefs of
Staff, Admiral Mullen allegedly at the behest of Pakistan’s President
Asif Ali Zardari, seeking American help to prevent a military coup in
Pakistan. Mansur Ijaz, an American businessman of Pakistani origin,
delivered the note to former US National Security Advisor Gen. James
Jones to pass on to Adml Mullen allegedly at Amb Haqqani’s behest. Amb
Haqqani has denied writing any such memo at anyone’s behest or asking
Ijaz to deliver it to anyone.

Amb Haqqani has been barred from leaving the country, which is a
denial of his fundamental right as a free citizen of Pakistan. Under
threat both by the ‘religious’ extremists and the security agencies,
he is currently a virtual prisoner confined for his own safety to the
Prime Minister’s residence.
Also facing threats is his lawyer, former Supreme Court Bar
Association President, Asma Jahangir, who has termed the Supreme Court
judgment of Dec 30, 2011 a ‘victory’ for the security establishment
that she alleges is behind the case.

Amb Haqqani’s wife, Farahnaz Ispahani, a Member of Pakistan’s
Parliament, also threatened, is currently in the US where she had come
for medical checkups. Columnist Marvi Sirmed, who has written
fearlessly against the ‘religious’ extremists and in support of Amb
Haqqani, has also been receiving threats. This is essentially the case
with anyone in Pakistan who counters or challenges the narrative of
the ideological security state.

Without going into merits of the case, obvious contradictions in the
‘evidence’, or political motivations behind it, it is evident that it
is at the crux of a matter vital to Pakistan’s politics, that is,
whether Pakistan is going to be run by a civilian elected government
along the lines of a parliamentary democracy that ensures fundamental
rights, or along the lines of a ideological narrative dictated by the
security establishment that holds fundamental rights subservient to
its interpretation of ‘national security’.

Too many people in Pakistan have fallen to the ideological monster
unleashed by the establishment pursuing a narrow, ideological
interpretation of ‘national security’. It is time for a fundamental
paradigm shift in Pakistan’s politics, to allow the nation to fulfill
its potential as a progressive, forward looking South Asian nation at
peace with its neighbours and the world. We urge the Pakistan
government, judiciary and security establishment to play their
constitutional roles, cooperate with each other and focus on
re-establishing the rule of law and in order to make this possible. ‘

In the meantime, be aware that the world is watching to ensure that no
harm comes to those who are taking a stand towards this end.

Signed:

Name, designation (list alphabetically)
- 1. Beena Sarwar, journalist
- 2. Karamat Ali, Labour Rights and Peace activist
- 3. Noman Quadri, student
- 4. Pervez Hoodbhoy, Physicist

To sign the above statement go to: tinyurl.com/05012012