Roundtable To Chart Roadmap To Democracy Needed: Achakzai

Observing the 40th anniversary of the 1983 operation by dictator General Ziaul Haq, the PkMAP chief says he believes in rule of law; opposes eviction of Afghan refugees

Roundtable To Chart Roadmap To Democracy Needed: Achakzai

Under the current suffocating political atmosphere in the country, there is a need to hold a round-table for all stakeholders to chart a roadmap for ensuring true democracy takes root in the country along with the supremacy of law and Constitution, said Pukhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP) Chairman Mahmood Khan Achakzai on Saturday.

Achakzai was addressing a rally organised by the party in Quetta on Saturday to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the martyrdom of party workers. At least four PkMAP and other pro-democracy activists were killed, and scores of others were injured when security forces fired at a peaceful pro-democracy rally in Quetta on October 7, 1983.  

"Who knows the worth of independence and democracy more than us?" Achakzai asked rhetorically, adding, "We paid for it through our blood, our lives and our freedom since the times of the British Raj."  

Achakzai had been leading the peaceful procession against dictator General Ziaul Haq's martial law, demanding the restoration of democracy, when martial law authorities fired on the procession. Achakzai narrowly escaped and was forced into hiding for six years until the martial law ended with Zia's midair explosion. 

The Pushtoon nationalist leader said they believed in democracy, constitutionalism, civilian and parliamentary supremacy, prosperity for all and injustice with none. He added that these values are rooted in their political history and part of their proud legacy.
Achakzai said they believe in the rule of law but oppose its selective use and weaponisation.

It is the responsibility of the state not only to ensure freedom to live but also to protect its citizens from hunger and poverty, he cautiously reminded.

Commenting on the prevailing political situation in the country, he said that until 1971, the country's ruling elite were afraid of the majority - a reference to East Pakistan. Today, he said, the elite are suspicious of the ethnic and religious minorities of the country.

The solution is to resort to collective wisdom. Thus, the situation necessitates a round table conference of all stakeholders to chart a road map towards true democracy, supremacy of the Constitution and parliament.

Achakzai suggested that all those judges and political workers who upheld the Constitution and sacrificed for the restoration of democracy should be publically acknowledged.

Referring to the incumbent Chief Justice of Pakistan, Qazi Faez Isa from Balochistan, Achakzai said that when a judge from Pishin stood for the supremacy of the Constitution and the rule of law, all hell was let loose against him.

Such trends should be discouraged by all democratic forces, he demanded. 

Democratic forces should take an unequivocal stand against martial law and undemocratic forces, he said.

Census and Afghan repatriation

Achakzai rejected the recent national digital censuses, which saw a reduction in the population of Pakhtun-dominated areas and, thus, their representation in parliament. 

Afghan refugees

On the arbitrary detention and deportation of Afghan refugees, Achakzai said that they should be treated as per the international conventions and protocols. 

He condemned the draconian measure and inhuman treatment meted out to this vulnerable section of the population.

Achakzai urged the United Nations, neighbouring countries, and particularly China to play a positive role in ensuring Afghanistan's integrity, peace and security.