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Why is state of human rights so bad in Pakistan?
For development and protection of human rights, people's participation in decision-making is vital. Where people have no role in governance, state of human rights will remain abominable. Also, 'human rights' is not one indicator. Human rights cover a broad range of concerns. Sometimes you may see improvement in one sector and deterioration in another. On whole, main issue in Pakistan is, unless people get due say in running affairs of state, condition of human rights cannot be improved.
How do you see future of democracy in Pakistan?
Pakistan doesn't have democracy. We have only facade of democracy. Prime Minister or Foreign Minister Kasuri have no say, nor can they exercise power.
Prior to taking over power Musharraf was calling Pakistani democracy a sham democracy. He claimed he wants to bring real one. All Pakistani dictators said same thing. They think Pakistan needs a democracy which they can guide. Our dictators wants to define democracy in their own way and then support that democracy, which suits them and serves their interests.
I believe that without a genuine workers' democracy, there is no future for working class in Pakistan. The capitalist democracy has not delivered and it failed again and again in Pakistan. Capitalist politicians cannot conceive a democracy without support of military. We think military domination has to end if democracy has to survive in Pakistan.
Does Musharraf have an exit strategy?
No he does not. He thinks if he remains head of army nobody will throw him out. He fails to remember that army chiefs in Pakistan have not had a very nice life. Yahya Khan went to Ayub and told him, 'Go home sir' and he had to.
General Gul Hasan went to Yahya and said, 'Go home sir,' and he had to. General Zia died and if he was killed it had to be by his own men.
General Asif Nawaz died and again if he was killed it is because his own men wanted a change. Gen Karamat resigned and Musharraf himself was about to be killed in a plane crash.
In Pakistan's history other dictators have used referendum to remain in power. This is an old trick. General Zia-ul Haq did same. General Ayub did same. By a fraudulent referendum Musharraf declared himself elected. He claimed that on basis of Supreme Court's verdict he has got powers to amend constitution. On basis of that dubious law he passed a Legal Framework Order and amended constitution in August 2002.
The effect of that order is that it virtually rewrites constitution in major areas like parliamentary democracy, federalism in Pakistan, and judiciary and its powers. We are very disturbed. The whole purpose behind exercise was to keep himself in power.
What do you think of status of women and minorities in Pakistan?
Women in Pakistan are considered half of men legally and traditionally. I am for equal rights for women in all fields. I think that state has to take dramatic measures to improve conditions of women. I demand to repeal all discriminatory laws, which make women half and inferior to men. The religious minorities of Pakistan are subject to all sorts of discriminatory laws. In fact, they are considered second-class citizens. They are normally framed in different cases on religious grounds. They are given inferior jobs like cleaning and so on. They are treated like untouchables. I stand for an immediate repeal of all discriminatory laws, including blasphemy laws. Religious minorities should be offered special quotas in all jobs created nationally. They should be given special attention in field of education, health and information technology.
What are your comments on rise of fundamentalism, and impact of Taliban's defeat on Pakistan?
The rise of fundamentalism in Pakistan is, in fact, a vote of no-confidence of working people in capitalist and feudal parties. It is failure of these parties in power, which has given rise to religious fanaticism. Religious fanaticism is an expression of total degeneration of society into extreme conservative traditions. The rise can also be blamed on narrow immediate interests of ruling classes and of military regimes in Pakistan.
The defeat of Taliban in Afghanistan will affect strategies of military regime in Pakistan in immediate terms. But you cannot kill any ideas by force. I see that in future, extreme fanatics might go underground, but serious religious parties like Jamaate Islami and Jamiat Ulema Islam will grow in their influence and electoral basis. They might fetch an unprecedented vote in next general elections if allowed to take part in elections.
Do you Support a complete ban on religious organizations?
I am in in favor of state banning Jihadies organizations that are advocating killings on name of Islam. But I am totally opposed to ban religious organizations by state. I want all religious trends to have a full freedom to advocate their ideas in a democratic and peaceful manner. But I oppose those religious fanatics who are in favor of killings opposite religious sects and individuals.
Are you hopeful about outcome of Indo-Pak peace efforts?
No, I am not hopeful. I think both sides are not interested. I strongly feel so. All this is drama to show off to international community. Both sides are trying to score points.
I believe if there is a liberal and open visa policy, things will change radically. In early September 2003, a high-powered Indian delegation was to come to Lahore consisting of judges and lawyers. They were denied visas by Pakistan. Similar things have happened in India. Both governments want to divert attention of people from real issues. Let people know themselves real differences between two countries.
The auther is currently living in exile in Sweden