December 2nd, 2021
Pakistan Civil Society Forum (PCSF) expresses great concern over government’s curbing of civil liberties, media freedom and the right to free speech, assembly and association. It notes the shrinking of free expression and objects to the rise in economic hardships for the already vulnerable working class.
PCSF believes that no democratic order can flourish and protect its citizens unless the freedoms of expression, assembly and association are guaranteed. Restrictions on these freedoms cannot be justified under any pretext.
PCSF notices that media is being bullied through coercive force and the most fundamental of freedoms are being subjected to stringent regulations and security protocols. Students are being booked under colonial sedition laws for legitimately demanding unionization and quality education. Workers especially lady health workers are being crushed under anti-labor economic policies in the name of development.
The agenda is seemingly clear: discourage democratic action and rob the civil society of any independence.
The recent attacks on the Asma Jahangir Conference 2021 (AJConf21) by the Government confirms this sentiment. These statements exemplify the government’s disregard towards providing enabling platform for dissenting voices and democratic expression. PCSF fears that many more civil society organisations working for peace, fundamental rights, social justice and tolerance will fall victim of Government’s such statements and actions. PCSF demands that the government stop its intimidating campaigns against AJConf21 and other peaceful and democratic institutions.
PCSF also foresees that these anti-democratic practices will inevitably jeopardize our social order. We hope that our government realizes the importance of democratic expression and learns from our historical experiences of weakening democracy and maligning political freedoms.
PCSF, therefore, demands that all regulations violating constitutional rights of citizens be reversed and an immediate dialogue with legitimate political forces be curated to develop a national agenda for democratic advancement.