ARD invites MMA to conference on 11th
By Qamar Jabbar
LAHORE: The Alliance for Restoration of Democracy (ARD) has called a ‘Round Table Conference’ on October 11 to discuss an anti-government movement and invited components of the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA).
The conference at the Lahore Press Club will plan a strategy to eliminate the 17th Amendment and force President Pervez Musharraf to step down as army chief by December 31, said the secretary general of the ARD, Zaffar Iqbal Jhagra, at a press conference on Friday.
He said representatives from 20 parties would participate in the meeting. Maulana Samiul Haq of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (Sami) and Professor Sajid Mir of Jamiat Ahl-e-Hadith have accepted ARD invitations to the conference. The two major parties of the MMA, the Jamaat-e-Islami and JUI-Fazl, have yet to respond to invites, Mr Jhagra said.
“However, we expect the MMA to participate fully in the conference,” he said. “We have no enmity with the MMA, but the ARD leaders felt they had to go their separate ways when the MMA supported the government on the 17th Amendment.” Mr Jhagra said if the MMA promised to cooperate with the ARD to abolish the 17th Amendment, the ARD would be willing to join the MMA in a campaign against the president’s uniform.
He said former prime minister Nawaz Sharif had directed his Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, the second biggest component of the ARD, not to compromise on the 17th Amendment. He had said that all politicians must work together to restore democracy to Pakistan.
Mr Jhagra condemned the sectarian violence in Multan and Sialkot, and added that the government could not control terrorism through “state terrorism”.
The government must focus its attention on the “ground realities of terrorism” before initiating a crackdown against terrorist. He said military operations in the tribal areas were the main cause of the unrest in the country. He demanded that the government resolve the tribal issue through negotiations with tribal leaders instead of through force.