Washington-: The former Pakistan Ambassador to the United States, Husain Haqqani opened the two-day deliberative conference titled ‘Pakistan After the Elections’ here and remarked that terrorism and international isolation are the real threats to Pakistan, however the country’s authorities refuse to recognise them.
Haqqani, while holding a discussion on ‘ways of ensuring greater support for pluralist ideas, human rights, and democracy in Pakistan,’ noted that dissent is not a real threat to Pakistan and highlighted that the authorities in Islamabad are failing to recognise the reality, reported The News International.
Asserting that the heavy-handed suppression of diverse views in Pakistan would not end the country’s economic crisis, Haqqani stated that this would also negate Islamabad’s purpose of projecting a positive image for the country.
“The best way to have a positive image is to build a positive reality, one that is free of the taint of terrorism, external dependence, and lack of democracy,” he said.
The United States Congressman and Chairman Emeritus of the Asia subcommittee of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs Brad Sherman is also scheduled to address the conference.
The conference is the third organised by the South Asians Against Terrorism and for Human Rights (SAATH), a grouping of pro-democracy Pakistanis co-hosted by Haqqani and US-based columnist Mohammad Taqi.
The SAATH congregations were earlier held in London in 2016 and 2017. The organiser said that this year the conference was toned down as a few of the forum’s Pakistani participants were “barred or intimidated by authorities from participating.”
The News International reported that a few days ago, Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM) member of the National Assembly, Mohsin Dawar, was detained at Peshawar airport as he was leaving Pakistan.
Dawar told the organisers that the Pakistan Government had unconstitutionally barred him from attending the gathering.
Issuing a press statement, SAATH stated that Imran Khan’s government is viewed as an authoritarian rule by the pro-democracy Pakistanis, including liberals and Baloch, Sindhi, Pashtun, Seraiki and Muhajir nationalists.
“In our discussions, we hope to address questions such as where Pakistan stands in the aftermath of the 2018 elections, what are the consequences to Pakistan of mainstreaming terrorists and terror groups, and how might the weakening voices for reform and a liberal vision be strengthened,” read the statement.
Taqi also reiterated that the freedom-loving Pakistanis needed to join hands “to create space for intellectual and political discourse.”
Highlighting that the Pakistani press is bound in shackled, Taqi observed that the electronic media is being coerced into submission, journalists are being hounded, and the political parties have been tamed into submission.
Resistance would continue against the authoritarian rule, stated Taqi.