The country’s political parties must resolve their differences over the framework and timing of elections through dialogue and mutual agreement, urged over a hundred leading civil society organisations, bar councils, human rights bodies, journalists, editors, women and trade union federations, and leading intellectuals.
A statement issued by the members of the civil society suggested that the country’s political parties should reach a national consensus either in the parliament or by holding an All-Parties Conference.
Adding that the civil society is ready to facilitate the dialogue as a “concerned and neutral mediator,” they also offered to form an Informal Group of Mediators (The Mediators).
This group offered to engage with political parties to start a reconciliation process to forge a national consensus on holding free, fair, and transparent elections to all assemblies on a mutually agreed timeframe.
The statement also said: “Pakistan Bar Council has agreed to host an All-Parties Conference if major political parties respond to this call.”
Voicing their concerns, the signatories of the appeal said: “The civil society believes that we the concerned citizens of Pakistan — committed to constitutional rule and a consistent democratic dispensation based on the smooth electoral transition through free, fair and transparent elections — have agreed to issue the following appeal to all political parties and legitimate stakeholders, including the government, the Election Commission of Pakistan, the Supreme Court of Pakistan and all civil society organizations”.
They further said: “The political crisis is increasingly becoming intractable, which is accentuating the economic woes of the masses. The leadership of the major political parties is on a war path and leaves little room for dialogue and accommodation.”
Urging for a national consensus “before things go out of the hands of everybody”, they said they were “extremely concerned about the kind of existential crises that may have very grave consequences for the nation”.
The signatories appealed for “a non-partisan approach”, and called upon all political parties — the parliamentary parties in particular — to “bring down current confrontational and intolerant rhetoric and sit together to sort out their political differences on the holding of election in the greater interests of the nation, the supremacy of the constitution and a mutually agreed peaceful democratic transition”.
They also recommended that all parliamentary parties hold an all-parties conference or sit together in the Parliament to find a plausible way out of the current political and constitutional impasse and reach a broader consensus on holding inclusive elections.
This they said was important to “ensure diversity with a mutual agreement on fair play and even playing field for all in order to give a free choice to the peoples of the federation of Pakistan to grant the mandate to their elected representatives”.
The signatories of the appeal include Pakistan Bar Council Vice Chairman Mr Haroon-ur-Rashid, Sindh Awami Tehreek member Lateef Paleejo, PML-N Senator Syed Mushahid Hussain, PPP Senator Raza Rabbani, along with several other political leaders, veteran journalists, and social rights organisations.