Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Video - Mahmood Khan Achakzai Speech in Azadi March Islamabad | SAMAA TV | 6 November 2019

Video - Maulana Fazl-ur-Rehman Speech | 6th November 2019

Pakistan’s Massive March Calls out Military Overreach

By Daud Khattak

The Azadi March has brought the religious right and secular left together on a one-point agenda of civilian supremacy.
Pakistan’s powerful military is struggling to keep its grip on power as the country seethes with anger over the rising cost of living caused by sluggish economic growth, political victimization, narrowing space for freedom of expression, and the militarization of politics.
The military ruled Pakistan for 35 out of the country’s 70 years of history. Each military takeover – General Ayub Khan in 1958, General Zia ul Haq in 1977, and General Pervez Musharraf in 1999 — was followed by a sharp rise in people’s demand for democracy.
Over the past few years, the military’s savior image has suffered a blow due to ex-premier Nawaz Sharif’s ouster through a controversial court verdict in 2017 and the rigging allegations in the July 2018 elections. While Sharif’s political party points an accusing finger at the collusion between the judiciary and military in his removal, the other opposition parties believe the results of the July 2018 elections were manipulated in favor of Imran Khan’s Tehreek-e-Insaf or Justice Movement. Khan denies the charge.
The Khan government, meanwhile, is believed to be playing second fiddle to the military establishment, adding to the perception that Khan is being kept in power to provide civilian face to the decisions taken by the military leadership.
As the “Azadi March,” a protest by Maulana Fazlur Rahman, chief of the religious Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam party, continues in Islamabad to seek Khan’s resignation, louder calls from the political leadership are heard about the meddling in 2018 elections by the military.
The opposition parties, headed in this march by the pro-Taliban Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam party, also want fresh elections without the supervision of the military. It is the army soldiers and officers who ensure security of the polling stations during elections and till 2018, the majority of Pakistani political parties used to demand elections be held under military supervision.
The precarious health condition of Nawaz Sharif adds fuel to the fire. The 69-year-old has so far turned down all behind the scene offers to quit politics and leave Pakistan to settle abroad.
Sharif’s narrative of “Vote Ko Izzat Do,” an Urdu phrase which means accept the sanctity of the vote, is ringing across Pakistan and stoking anger against Imran Khan and his backers.

Sharif, the most popular leader in the Punjab heartland, which is also the main recruiting base for Pakistan’s armed forces, was maligned with the slogan “Modi Ka Jo Yar Hai, Ghaddar Hai” (Whoever is Modi’s friend is a traitor) for his peace overtures with archrival India.
Yet even staunch opponents of Sharif stand behind him when it comes to his “Vote Ko Izzat Do” narrative, which asks for civilian supremacy and the rule of law. Similarly, a majority of Maulana Fazlur Rahman’s supporters on various social media platforms are liberals who would never subscribe to Rahman’s religious views. The only ground for their backing is his unwavering stance on civilian supremacy.
One major reason for the decline in Khan’s popularity is his alleged secondary role to the military, besides his government’s failure so far to provide relief to the middle class and poor in terms of prices, jobs, and good governance as promised.
Khan admitted during a recent meeting with journalists that the military is standing behind him. The military’s reach is also evidence in its activities, which reach far beyond the security realm. Earlier, business tycoons met General Qamar Javed Bajwa, Pakistan’s army chief, to apprise him of their grievances. And in December 2018, Pakistan’s military spokesman advised journalists to adopt positive reporting for “just six months” and “see where the country reaches.”
In the past, those who dared to stand for the cause of civilian supremacy, civil rights, and the constitution, was labelled as traitors, anti-state, and Indian or Afghan agents. Fatima Jinnah, sister of Pakistan’s founder Mohammad Ali Jinnah, was also labeled as traitor when she challenged General Ayub Khan in 1964.
Such labeling, however, is now vehemently challenged on social media. Later this month, Hafiz Hamdullah, an ex-senator, was declared an “alien” for being an Afghan by the country’s national database registration authority NADRA, which also directed television channels not to invite Hamdullah for talk shows. Only days before, Hamdullah had criticized the security establishment in a television talk show for its role in politics.
Within hours, the name Hafiz Hamdullah was trending, with friends and foes posting on their timelines that “I am an Afghan” to express solidarity with the ex-senator. Days later, the government withdrew the order of declaring Hafiz Hamdullah an “alien.”
Mufti Kifayatullah, another political leader, accused three military dictators – Ayub, Zia, and Musharraf – of committing crimes by violating the constitution in a talk show. He was arrested the next day on charges of “hate speech” and threat to public order. Kifayatullah was later freed on bail.
On the eve of July 2018 elections,  high court judge Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui accused Pakistan’s premier intelligence agency of meddling in the political system and exerting pressure on the judiciary to keep Nawaz Sharif behind bars. A few months later, Justice Siddiqui was sacked on charges of refurbishing his official residence beyond entitlement.
From political meddling to media restrictions and interference in judiciary, the proverbial accusing finger is pointed at the establishment. The military always deny the charges of interfering in politics. Military spokesman Major General Asif Ghafoor questioned Maulana Fazlur Rahman’s comments when the latter accused the “national institutions,” a euphemism for the military, of supporting the government.
To help arrest the trend, the government has blocked interviews of key leaders such as former president Asif Ali Zardari and Maulana Fazlur Rahman on private television channels. In a fresh move, the media regulator PEMRA asked television anchors not to sit as hosts in talk shows.
These measures prove that the government and the establishment are rapidly losing their monopoly over the flow of information. Instead of getting crafted and selected information, social media is offering fair choices to common Pakistanis.
As Sharif is battling death, his “Vote Ko Izzat Do” slogan is echoing in Maulana Fazlur Rahman’s “Azadi March,” which has brought the religious right and secular left together on a one-point agenda of civilian supremacy.
However, irrespective of left or right, the ongoing struggle is seen by many in Pakistan as a struggle between the country’s powerful establishment and civilian leadership. The end, whenever it comes, will be decisive for the future course of democracy in Pakistan.

#PPP will keep fighting for democracy, says Bilawal Bhutto

Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari on Wednesday reiterated his party’s resolve to continue the struggle for the rights of people.
Addressing the legal fraternity here at the high court bar, Bilawal praised the lawyers for their struggle for democracy and people’s rights. His party needed the support of lawyers and all those, who believed in the rule of law, to strengthen Pakistan and democracy, he added.
He said his grandfather Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, who had given a constitution to the country, was hanged. His mother Benazir Bhutto spearheaded the campaign for the restoration of the judiciary and sacrificed her life but didn’t make any compromises on principles for the people’s rights.
His father was also put behind the bar for 11 years without any solid case, he alleged.
Bilawal said former president Asif Ali Zardari had sent a presidential reference for reopening of the case of Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto 10 years ago.
He said the Bhutto family and the PPP had given sacrifices for the rights of the people, while dictators had overthrown its elected governments.
Former prime minister Yusuf Raza Gilani, his son member of the Punjab Assembly Musa Gilani and former Punjab governor Makhdoom Ahmad also attended the meeting.

#Pakistan #PPP - Bilawal asks courts to deliver justice to Benazir Bhutto

Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari on Wednesday questioned that when would his mother and former prime minister Benazir Bhutto get justice.
The PPP chairperson addressed the Multan bar court association where he said he and his family have stood witness to the kind of justice imparted by the judicial system in Pakistan.
“Today, we are still talking, thinking and fighting for justice, democracy and human rights,” he said, adding: “You can’t simply separate this struggle from the Bhutto family […] those who performed the legislation were hanged.”
“We respect our honorable judges and lawyers who fought against dictatorship and stood by democracy,” he said while praising brave judges who, despite oppression, wrote dissenting notes which had put their lives at risk.
“Ten years ago, then-president Zardari sent a presidential reference to the Supreme Court to review the judicial murder of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, but after 10 years, I went and knocked on the doors of the court and tried to become a party in the petition but we are still waiting for justice.”
“In naya Pakistan, there shouldn’t be any place for political victimisation […] in naya Pakistan, we are still facing fake cases,” he said, while asking for the release of Zardari in all cases.
“Why new laws are made for PPP?” he said.