Pakistan needs continued and stronger democracy, electoral reforms, social justice and tolerance in society. These observations were made in a peace convention in Islamabad attended by hundreds of people from across the country, said a press release issued by the organisers.
Delegates at the Aman Ittehad National Convention included farmers, labourers, students, academics, lawyers, activists, and journalists.
Ali Asghar Khan, who heads the Aman Ittehad’s national secretariat, said, “The trust deficit between state and citizens is growing. At this critical time, citizens must remain involved in political processes and assert their demand for stronger and more representative democracy.”
Aman Ittehad Provincial Convener Irfan Mufti said, “People may perceive that democracy has not delivered, but only democratic governance allows space for people’s participation.”
Talat Hussain, a veteran journalist, said, “Parliamentarians must deliver so that public faith in democracy is maintained.”
Electoral reforms were also demanded. “Proportional representation will ensure that ordinary citizens can also enter the electoral contest,” said Karamat Ali.
The participants also demanded reserved seats for women, labour, peasants and minorities.
“We must use our right to vote, and use it wisely,” said Maryam Bibi. The participants stressed that political parties must award tickets to deserving, not “electable”, candidates.
“Elections must be free and fair. Involvement of intelligence agencies in the electoral contest or its results must not be allowed,” said Salman Raja, an advocate of the Supreme Court. He stressed that law must be applied uniformly if public confidence in state institutions is to be rebuilt.
The participants also demanded reduced military spending and funds to be redirected to deal with the energy crisis and providing better healthcare, education and jobs to people.
Established in 2009, Aman Ittehad, or United for Peace, is a citizen platform striving for peace, democratic governance, and justice in Pakistan.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 29th, 2012.