In the ‘London Declaration for Pakistani Pluralism’, the participants agreed that, “Pakistan faces the risk of global isolation because of widespread obscurantism, official support for extremism and general disregard for human rights”.

Pakistan faces the risk of global isolation because of widespread obscurantism, its support to extremism and disregard for human rights, according to prominent Pakistani intellectuals and rights activists.

They made the proclamation while participating in a conference on ‘The Future of Pakistan’ organised under the banner of South Asians Against Terrorism and for Human Rights (SAATH), co-hosted by U.S.-based columnist Mohammad Taqi and former Pakistan envoy to the U.S. Husain Haqqani.

The gathering was arranged away from Pakistan because of the threats to the security of free thinkers in the country.

Participants expressed grave concern on Pakistan’s current trajectory, militarisation of state and society, shrinking space for liberal ideas and pluralism, constant threats to democracy and threats to NGOs and individuals, as well as the inability of major political parties to prioritise protection of human rights and social justice.

In the ‘London Declaration for Pakistani Pluralism’, the participants agreed that, “Pakistan faces the risk of global isolation because of widespread obscurantism, official support for extremism and general disregard for human rights”.

Pakistan ranks 147 out of 188 countries in UN’s Human Development Index and 143 out of 144 in World Economic Forum’s Gender Gap report, it noted.

It is the world’s sixth largest country by population with the world’s sixth largest military but its economy is 26th in the world by size of GDP on PPP basis and 42nd in nominal terms.

“It is sad and disconcerting that instead of dealing with these issues with the help of fresh ideas espoused by broad- minded Pakistanis, the Pakistani state tends to appease religious extremists, continues to propagate religious extremism and allow it to freely spread in society and persistently misinforms the people of Pakistan about the realities of our country,” the declaration said.

It noted that instead of facing harsh realities, the Pakistani people are fed a steady diet of conspiracy theories and exaggerated threats to national security from other nations and countries.

“The Pakistani state, regrettably, expresses a continued willingness to engage with religious extremists and terrorists, and sometimes even talks of formally inducting Jihadi terrorist groups into the state’s paramilitary structure but remains hostile to liberal, progressive and nationalist groupings within Pakistan,” the declaration said.

“Political parties representing Baloch, Muhajir, Sindhi, and Pashtun segments of Pakistan’s population have been targeted by both state repression and hostile propaganda aimed at delegitimising them even when they have won clear electoral mandates from the people,” it said.

The Pakistani intelectuals and activists asserted that the state also pursues repressive policies towards population wise smaller provinces and ethnicities and their elected representatives.

By The Hindu
http://www.thehindu.com/news/international/Pakistan-risks-isolation-by-supporting-terror-activists/article16085349.ece