Referendum illegal: NGOs
By Shoaib Ahmed
LAHORE: Most of the country’s human rights and non-governmental organisations have criticised the April 30 presidential referendum, calling it ‘unconstitutional’ and ‘illegal’, and have demanded the army’s quick return to the barracks.
Speaking to Daily Times on Monday, noted lawyer and social activist Asma Jehangir said, “I have never experienced such a crude attempt at rigging and imposing unwanted generals on the people of Pakistan.”
Mr IA Rehman from the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) said the referendum was against the constitution of Pakistan and that there would be no turn out.
Ms Madeeha Gauhar, the head of the progressive theatre group Ajoka, said their stage play ‘Bala King’, recently staged at the Alhamra Art Centre, was the most suitable answer to the referendum. ‘Bala King’ is the story of a dictator who wants to earn popularity at gunpoint.
Mr Shah Taj, convener of the Joint Action Committee for People’s Rights (JAC) said, “We find the referendum unconstitutional and illegal and do not support military rule in any case and in any form. Our demand is that army should go back to the barracks. There should be a national government and independent Election Commission under which elections are conducted in fair and free manner.”
Mr Farooq Tariq, general secretary of the Labour Party, said all labourers would boycott the referendum. He said the Labour party believes that the reforms agenda of President Musharraf is in fact a counter reform against labourers and workers. He said the past two and half years of military rule have been hell for the workers and labourers.
In contrast, President of the Democratic Women’s Association Tahira Mazhar Ali Khan said that at least President Musharraf was tolerant to criticism and hopefully he would do something good for the country.