An open letter to democrats, civil society and rights activists! – By Saad Mansoor

PM Yousaf Raza Gilani waves as he arrive at the Supreme Court in Islamabad on Feb 13, 2012. PHOTO: AFP

I understand when tableeghis and Tahriris speak up against democracy and I understand when sons and daughters of military men do so, and I do get it when a significant educated yet politically indifferent middle class voices its opinion against democracy. But when those politically mature people fighting for civil rights and liberties, woman emancipation or proposers of secular state and even those fight to instill communist values do it, I understand them not. Hence in this battle which may not be final but is albeit a major one I ask those who share any of the above goals to stand with us when the establishment run Courts are set to convict the fourth truly elected civilian Prime Minister of Pakistan.


To our leftist brethren:

You work for an equal and just society though not a democratic or a capitalistic one. Where workers should have their rights and wealth should be more evenly distributed. Feudalism is abolished and justice is meted to all without ethnic, religious or linguistic discrimination.

Now consider the current government and consider the alternates. It doesn’t give you communism or socialism, but has taken unparallel steps for a more just rural urban equality by distribution of land among the landless peasants, increased support prices of cash crops and above all the revival of student and workers unions? Now consider the alternates, do you want another dictatorship which scraps the land reforms like Zia did, or creates massive inequalities like Ayub and Musharraf? Or the nizam of a theocratic Pakistan waging wars for imposition of Khilafat e Rashida?

Stand with PPP and continue working for your cause in a Pakistan where freedom of expression is welcomed by government, where the government might be corrupt but you can voice your opinion and get it ousted through the power of ballot and where your opinions and your ideology will not be declared anti-Pakistan and heretic.


To women striving for their rights:

You stand for women emancipation, to make the common woman strong, empowered and independent. Where they can work and their right to education is recognized. They are not declared kari and not victimized in punchayats. They marry a man of their choosing and not married to the Holy Quran.

Now consider the current government’s four years. Has not the PPP led government done more for women empowerment than all the previous governments combined? Today marriage to Holy Quran is federal crime, trading women in punchayats is a federal crime and throwing acid can result in life imprisonment. Anti Karo-Kari cells have been established throughout central Sindh. Today the speaker of the National Assembly, the deputy speaker of the Sindh assembly, the ambassador to US, the foreign and information ministers, the defence secretary, information minister Sindh and many more women are occupying prestigious and powerful offices all at the behest of PPP led government in the center. Compare it with the previous pseudo liberal Musharraf led government or the Islamist Punjab government and make a choice.

In this of hour do you stand with the government who has caused all the above for the cause you stand for or will you draw your swords with a Supreme Court who honorably discharges rapists of Mukhtara Mai in the name of rule of law?


To my fellow democrats:

You stand for democracy and should know the importance of system. Before you jump and cheer for Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudry led Court, please pause and consider this. Why has every civilian prime minister ever elected to office been hunted by Courts in the name of rule of law? Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto was hanged, Benazir Bhutto relentlessly pursued by Courts until her tragic murder and Nawaz Sharif convicted for supremacy of law.

The debate about this government’s performance is a long one but there are some facts no democrat can deny. Does it not brave unceasing criticism from its opponents? Does it not welcome people’s power in the form of jalsa and jaloos wherever possible? Has it not reformed Election commission and conducted largely free and fair by-elections during its tenure?

If you stand for supremacy of law indeed, then know this that it is only the prerogative of people of Pakistan and no other to chose who the Prime minister of Pakistan. It is not for khakis to decide and certainly not the right of black robed oath breakers. Democracy is after all rule by the people and lets keep it that way.

And to our friends in media:

You folks are an intelligent lot. Some of you have sold their souls to the devil so this is not for you. But many of you do believe in democracy though not this government. You know how ‘independent’ media is and who influences it. You know what general people don’t and you know your power. You know why no one spoke up against Musharraf government before 2007 and what changed after it. You know that you freely talk against this government, and are free to lambast the President and the Prime Minister to your heart’s content which is seemingly limitless.

So stand up for a freer Pakistan, where you get to be the kingmakers in part and not as serfs of a pair of black boots.  Prime Minister maybe in courts for contempt of courts today but sooner than later you may find yourselves in the same position.


This government like any other democratic government is here because of the votes of the people of Pakistan. If you doubt the votes casted in the previous elections wait a year and have new elections. If you want Asif Ali Zardari to be convicted, waited a year and six months and then you can have him to try in Courts and if you want a more effective democracy wait another tenure and then you will have it. After four years of deadlines about the fate of this government and the fate of this country, lets finally concede that neither is going anywhere and both are here to stay their time!



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