SAATH FORUM

South Asians Against Terrorism & For Human Rights

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Pakistan Liberals Meet for Second Conference in London

ANI

October 13, 2017

A conference attended by several prominent Pakistani intellectuals, human rights and social media activists, and public figures with anti-establishment views began in London on Friday with calls for end to Pakistani support for terrorism.

The conference titled ‘Pakistan- the war forward is the second such event organized under the banner of South Asians Against Terrorism and for Human Rights (SAATH).

It is co-hosted by US-based columnist Dr Mohammad Taqi and former Pakistan ambassador to the United States, Husain Haqqani, who has emerged as a major international critic of Pakistan’s state policies especially on terrorism.

Haqqani told the opening session that Pakistanis had to save their country from the threat of being declared a state sponsor of terrorism as a result of misguided policies of past 25 years.

“It is better if reform-minded Pakistanis call for course correction than sanctions being imposed by global powers.” he said.

Participants said they preferred to meet in London, which has a history of hosting people threatened in their countries because they did not want to join the ranks of those disappeared or jailed by ISI.

Besides Haqqani and Taqi prominent participants of the conference include former editors Rashed Rehman and Abbas Nasir, Senator Latif Afridi, author Arif Jamal, poet Atif Tauqeer, social activist Marvi Sirmed, and ‘Aman ki asha’ advocate Beena Sarwar.

Some delegates represented Baloch, Sindhi, Pashtun, and Muhajir nationalist groups considered anti-national by Pakistan’s military establishment.

This year, the conference theme is to create a network of Pakistanis in the country and abroad “who reject the idea of permanent war with neighboring countries” and do not accept what liberal Pakistanis consider an extremist orientation.

“Liberal, progressive, nationalist and secular visions of Pakistan need to be reinstated in Pakistan’s political arena if the country is to overcome threats of international isolation,” Haqqani told the opening session.

“We must change the narrative that only religious extremists or intolerant bigots represent Pakistani patriotism.”

He also said that “something is deeply wrong when a state tries to shut down people asking for reform while hosting underworld criminals like Dawood Ibrahim and terrorists like Siraj Haqqani and Hafiz Saeed.”

There was also criticism of the new policy of mainstreaming militant groups such as Jamaat-ud-Dawa/Lashkar-e-Taiba, which has been transformed into Milli Muslim League.

According to Dr Taqi, “We want to focus on how tolerance can be mainstreamed in Pakistan at a time when Jihadis and those designated international terrorists are being mainstreamed.”

Dr Taqi expressed concern that even the “facade of democracy in Pakistan” was being eroded and “invisible hands are expanding their role.”

Way forward for Pakistan sans war discussed in London

Geo TV

October, 13, 2017

Dozens of prominent Pakistani figures “who reject the idea of permanent war with neighbouring countries” and do not accept what liberal Pakistanis consider an extremist orientation came together for the conference titled ‘Pakistan- the way forward’.

The conference was the second such organised under the banner of South Asians Against Terrorism and for Human Rights (SAATH). It was hosted by columnist Dr Mohammad Taqi and former ambassador of Pakistan to the United States, Husain Haqqani.

“Liberal, progressive, nationalist and secular visions of the country need to be reinstated in Pakistan’s political arena if the country is to overcome the current local and international threats,” Haqqani, one of the hosts, told Geo News. “We must change the narrative that only religious extremists or intolerant bigots represent Pakistani patriotism. Pakistan belongs to various schools of thought, various ideologies and diverse opinions that’s its real beauty.”

He maintained Pakistan faced critical challenges and needed a 360-degree change in policies — rather than gimmicks — and an alternative suggesting the way forward.

Besides Haqqani and Taqi prominent participants included Rashed Rehman, Abbas Nasir, Senator Latif Afridi, Arif Jamal, Marvi Sirmed, Beena Sarwar, Atif Tauqeer, Farhat Taj and several leading journalists.

Last year, the conference was marred by opinions of hard-line nationalists and supporters of Muttahida Qaumi Movement-London’s leader Altaf Hussain. However, this time, the agenda and list of participants was more mainstream, organisers said.

They added that the conference was themed with the purpose of creating a network of Pakistanis in the country and abroad who reject the idea of permanent war with neighbouring countries.

While sharing their opinions, some experts said the conference should also explore and highlight issues of human rights and extremism in other parts of South Asia as the forum’s primary focus is the entire South Asian region.

Call for Reviving Liberal Pakistan at London Conference

The Nation

Salman Masood,

October 13 2017

More than one hundred prominent Pakistani intellectuals, human rights and social media activists, and public figures with anti-establishment views have arrived in London,  calling for the revival of ‘Quaid-e-Azam’s liberal vision for Pakistan or risk international isolation.’

The conference titled ‘Pakistan- the war forward’ is being organized under the banner of South Asians Against Terrorism and for Human Rights (SAATH).

It is the second such meeting co-hosted by US-based columnist Dr Mohammad Taqi and former Pakistan ambassador to the United States, Husain Haqqani, who has become a major international critic of Pakistan’s state policies, especially on terrorism.

Besides Haqqani and Taqi prominent participants include the conference include Rashed Rehman, Abbas Nasir, Senator Latif Afridi, Arif Jamal, Marvi Sirmed, Beena Sarwar, Farhat Taj, and Atif Tauqeer

Unlike last year, when the conference was dominated by opinions of hard-line Sindhi and Baloch nationalists and MQM-Altaf supporters, this year the agenda and list of participants is more mainstream.

The conference theme is to create a network of Pakistanis in the country and abroad “who reject the idea of permanent war with neighboring countries” and do not accept what liberal Pakistanis consider an extremist orientation.

“Liberal, progressive, nationalist and secular visions of Pakistan need to be reinstated in Pakistan’s political arena if the country is to overcome threats of international isolation,” Haqqani said, while opening the conference. “We must change the narrative that only religious extremists or intolerant bigots represent Pakistani patriotism.”

As delegates registered for the meeting, they recalled several prominent liberal Pakistanis who have been physically eliminated or disappeared. “That is why we are meeting London,” one organizer said.

There was also criticism of the new policy of mainstreaming militant groups such as Jamaat-ud-Dawa/Lashkar-e-Taiba , which has been transformed into Milli Muslim League.

According to co-organizer Dr Taqi, “We want to focus on how tolerance can be mainstreamed in Pakistan at a time when Jihadis and those designated international terrorists are being mainstreamed.”

Dr Taqi also expressed concern that even the “facade of democracy in Pakistan” was being eroded and “invisible hands are expanding their role.”

The three-day conference will continue on Saturday and Sunday.

Pakistan: The Way Forward 2017 Conference

More than one hundred prominent Pakistani intellectuals, human rights and social media activists, and public figures with anti-establishment views met  in London,  calling for the revival of ‘Quaid-e-Azam’s liberal vision for Pakistan or risk international isolation.’ The conference titled ‘Pakistan- the war forward’ was organized under the banner of South Asians Against Terrorism and for Human Rights (SAATH).

It was the second such meeting co-hosted by US-based columnist Dr Mohammad Taqi and former Pakistan ambassador to the United States, Husain Haqqani, who has become a major international critic of Pakistan’s state policies, especially on terrorism. Besides Haqqani and Taqi prominent participants include the conference include Rashed Rehman, Abbas Nasir, Senator Latif Afridi, Arif Jamal, Marvi Sirmed, Beena Sarwar, Farhat Taj, and Atif Tauqeer.

 

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