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South Asian Network for Secularism and Democracy (SANSAD), comprising people from all walks of life in the South Asian Diaspora in British Columbia, Canada, organized a Roundtable on the current crisis in Pakistan. The following is a list conclusions arrived at during this meeting.

>>  The present situation in Pakistan has to be located within the general weakness of democratic institutions in previously colonized countries. Pakistan’s weak institutions are not exceptional but representative of the weakness experienced by all countries that freed themselves from colonialism. The Pakistani people have continued to struggle for democratization of the institutions and polity in their society. The ongoing responsibility of all democratic people is to work for the strengthening of these institutions. We should continue to organize educational meetings toward this end.

>>  One of the major weaknesses of democratic institutions in post colonial countries, even those that maintain the forms of representative government, is the scant attention paid to the welfare of the common people, particularly in regard to health, education, and employment. The frustrations of the people with social inequality and injustice make democratic institutions vulnerable to hijacking. We should continue to focus attention on the demand for social justice.

>>  The politics and economic development of Pakistan, and indeed the whole of South Asia, are governed, directly or indirectly, by the economic and political interests of the United States. This domination can operate through direct political intervention by the state apparatus of the US or through international instruments of US policy such as the World Trade Organization, World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. Political developments in the region, therefore, should be seen not as autonomous but as occurring within the regime of imperial interests.

>>  The vast majority of the people of Pakistan have traditionally been secular in their outlook, but their secular democratic aspirations have been subverted by the imperial agenda in the region that has led to the growth and consolidation of Islamism. The common people, the workers and peasants have been the biggest losers in this.

>>  The current crisis in Pakistan far exceeds the credentials of Chief Justice Iftiquar Choudhury as a champion of democracy and President General Parvez Musharraf’s technical constitutional legitimacy in suspending the Chief Justice. What is at stake in the current crisis is the integrity of the judiciary as an institution: it is to this that the people of Pakistan have rallied.

>>  As secular and democratic South Asians of the Diaspora we stand in solidarity with the people of Pakistan in their defense of the integrity of the judiciary and their aspiration for the rule of law.

South Asian Network for Secularism and Democracy
Suite 435, 205 – 329 North Road, Coquitlam, BC, Canada. V3K 6Z8
phone : (604) 420-2972; FAX: (604) 420-2970
Electronic mail : sansad@sansad.org
Website: http://www.sansad.org