Washington DC:

We the members of South Asians Against Terrorism and for Human Rights (SAATH) welcome the joint communique adopted by the All Parties Conference (APC) on Sunday. We congratulate Pakistan’s political leadership for initiating the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) and posing a strong joint front against the undemocratic forces. We reiterate our support to PDM and our commitment to meaningful democracy and civilian supremacy.

We applaud Bilawal Bhutto Zardari for hosting the historic event, Mian Nawaz Sharif for speaking boldly and bluntly exposing military’s interference in political affairs, Maulana Fazlur Rahman for his consistent attempts to bring opposition parties together, and all Pashtun, Baloch and Sindhi nationalist parties and groups for coming together to save Pakistan’s dwindling democracy.

We appreciate the fact that political leaders highlighted the disturbingly intensified trend of enforced disappearances especially in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Balochistan and Sindh. However, we are highly disappointed to see that the PDM leadership failed to demonstrate strong enough condemnation and to generate seriousness towards rising violence against religious minorities and women.

We want to record our protest to the government for censoring Maulana Fazlur Rahman’s speech and cutting it off from the broadcast media. This practice of gagging the media and political dissent constitutes outright hypocrisy when the Prime Minister is fond of claiming on every international forum that Pakistani media was ‘freer than western media.’

We are outraged to see military officials feeding to media and misleading people about a meeting that the Army Chief convened a few days before the APC on the pretext of creating political consensus about some policy decisions pertaining to Gilgit Baltistan. Using this information to discredit political parties, appears to be a desperate effort by the military leadership to overcome their embarrassment over a clear stance that these parties took against undemocratic practices of military establishment.

We do hope that political parties will now not bow down before the pressure exerted by the undemocratic forces, and would rather, expose the antics employed by the latter. We want to emphasize upon the PDM leadership to follow up the resolution with mass mobilization and assuming leadership role in exerting honest plan of action for strengthening democracy and posing decisive resistance to military’s interference in political domain.