The organizers of the Asma Jahangir Conference regrets the state’s highhandedness after it blocked the three time elected former PM’s speech at the AJCONF2021 closing ceremony on Nov 21.
The internet provider was restrained from providing the organizers with internet servces for the conferences two hours before the closing and Mr Sharif’s speech was supposed to start.
This included cutting off of cellular internet services two hours before the closing session, in the vicinity of the Avari Hotel Lahore.
The organizers of Asma Jahangir Conference 21 which includes the Supreme Court Bar Association, Pakistan Bar Council, and the AGHS, strongly condemn this act and consider it an onslaught on the freedom of expression. These steps can never deter our resolve to give voice to the marginalized communities.
After the video call was cut off, the organizers arranged for a telephonic address, during which Nawaz sharif condemned the present government for censoring freedom of speech and expression and said that everyone must struggle for democracy together and come to a consensus on political rights and to chalk out a way forward to implement it
“In the past has the judiciary not legitimized martial law, and given a dictator the right to make changes to the constitution in Pakistan those who follow the constitution are traitors. There needs to be a consensus on a national narrative. Following the constitutuion is the only solution. For this purpose journlaists civil society activists must play their role for the sake of democracy and the rule of law. T hey must unify on one platform, a national jirgah, which will give shape to a national movement so that we can move forward as it is already too late.”
Munizae Jahangir, journalist and organizer of the conference, said, “We believe in freedom of expression that is why this non-partisan platform is open to everyone and we condemn the muzzling of the closing session where Mian Nawaz Sharif was going to make an address.”
In the sessions today:
In a panel discussion on Forced conversions, participants said that the bill should not have been blocked while CII chairman said that these instances were limited to Sindh and Punjab.
In a discussion on inequality on income and wealth, it was mentioned that there was unequal distribution of wealth which led to a larger gap, and COVID 19 was one of the factors which led to excessive distortion.
In the discussion on anti-rape legislation, it was said that prosecution agencies and criminal justsice system, there were several lacunae and lack of training. The Anti rape act, 30,000 cases were registered but not a single one was investigated under this act.
In accountability or victimization, panelists said those who called others corrupt were themselves never investigated. NAB laws exlsuded military officials needed to be exact.
Impact of extremism on minoties led to panelists discussing the discrimination of religious minorities, they resolved that there needs to be one Pakistan for all and all citizens must be treated according to Jinnah’s vision.
In Shrinking Civil Space, which was especially dedicated to Kamran Arif, the panelists decide that throughout South Asia civil society was being attacked and not free.
In session extrajudicial killings, arbitrary detention, and forced disappearances, judicial reform was needed and the criminal justice must be made stronger. The suo moto power of judges means they should be held accountable as well. There should be checks and balances. Prison reform is needed.
Denying Refuge, impact of closing border to afghans: The right to seek asylum is a life saving right and it was resolved and foreign represenatives expessed concern over increasing rhetoric about forcinly returning refugees.
Mainstreaming gender equlity in judiciary, there is a need to lay down rules in the jduciary bar and legislature to increase space for women. Some speakers suggested establishment of a standing committee on diversity and inclusion.
In the session of Woes of smaller provinces, panelists said that they were discriminated against by the elite in Punjab who often allied with the military and which resulted in an increase in militancy. They said the guaruntees by constitution given to the smaller provicnes was not being implemented. Manzoor Pashteen specified security related issues faced by the people in KP.
In Macro-economic indicators it was highlighted what national security and economy are intertwined, and it is important how much wealth is being distributed.
In the session of Students rights, all participants were from peripheral areas, they demanded that they wanted student unions, missing ad abducted students be immediately freed and Ali Wazir be freed and on Novembr 26th they will have a students march in Lahore.