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Women Action Forum demands an immediate revocation of the state's agreement with TYL

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Women Action Forum

Statement on the Agreement with Tehreek Labaik Ya Rasool Allah

Women Action Forum, Lahore, strongly condemns and rejects the illegal agreement reached between the government and Tehreek Ya Rasool Allah with the army as the guarantor.  WAF is appalled at this capitulation of the state to a bunch of hooligans who are creating mayhem in the name of religion and is outraged by  the way that (i) a couple of thousand violent, armed extremists were allowed to block roads in the capital, unleash violence upon citizens and law enforcement functionaries and violate the citizens’ fundamental right to free movement with impunity and (ii) by the Agreement signed between the government and an extremist outfit with the army as guarantor that provides the extremists with complete impunity for their crimes.

This is evidenced by the fact that this agreement grants the right to a violent extremist mob to:

  1. Demand and achieve the removal of a Federal Law Minister from his position.
  2. Demand the release and withdrawal of  criminal charges against those arrested for the destruction of property and wreaking violence on both government functionaries and citizens
  3. Demand the release of the report prepared by the committee led by Raja Zafar-ul-Haq for punitive action against those responsible for change in the election oath. (The fact that this change is purely semantic and does not in any way affect the status of the Namoos I Rasalat clause testifies either to malafide intentions or illiteracy on part of the protesters).
  4. Demand the setting up of an enquiry board to probe and decide what action should be taken against the government and administration officials over the operation conducted by security forces against  violent and foul-mouthed protesters on November 25.
  5. Demand that the federal and provincial governments should determine and compensate, from the public exchequer, for the loss of government and private assets incurred from November 6 until the end of the sit-in. 

WAF is appalled by the way the civil and military arms of the state have signed away the writ of the state by an agreement that overturns and subverts the constitution, the prevalent law of the country and the people’s fundamental right to safety and security. It would appear that both state institutions have forgotten that (i) there are laws to deal with terrorism such as the Anti-Terrorism Act of 1997, apart from the National Action Plan agreed upon by all political parties and (ii) that only the parliament can change laws, and any agreement contrary to existing law should be declared null and void.   That this document ends by crediting Army Chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa and his representative team for their "special efforts" that led to the agreement being signed and for saving the nation from a big catastrophe is revealing and adds insult to injury.

This outrageous agreement also gives the right to terrorist outfits to decide who is and is not a Muslim with state ministers being required to prove their religious ‘correctness’ to an illegal authority.  It has also been agreed that members of Tehreek-e-Labaik Ya Rasool Allah will be included in textbook boards to bring the curriculum in line with their version of religious teaching.  This violates the 18th amendment in which education became a provincial subject and the federal government has no right to make any pacts on education and leave it to illiterate and obscurantist clerics to decide what should or should not be taught to our future generations.  WAF would like to point out that this will further increase sectarian divides as the teaching of one sect may not be acceptable to any other. 

WAF reminds the government and state security forces that the foremost duty of the state is to protect the life and security of its citizens and ensure that the fundamental rights granted in the constitution are upheld.  We denounce an agreement that totally erodes state authority while appeasing a violent mob of around two thousand terrorists by allowing it to blackmail the state into imposing its own will on the people. 

WAF rejects the terms of this unconstitutional agreement and asks the concerned authorities for answers to the following questions:

  • What happened to the Operation Rudd-ul-Fasaad being carried out since February to rid the country of terrorists, and the frequent claims that the backbone of terrorists has been broken? 
  • Who gave the government and the army the right to end all cases registered against the terrorists, or the right to pay them from public money for blocking the capital city? 
  • Under what law did the army refuse to act in aid of civilian authority when called upon to do so?
  • Under which law did the army, a subordinate organ of the state, become a guarantor/mediator in an agreement to overturn law and order? 
  • How did the terrorists gain access to weapons and tear gas which can only be used by law enforcing authorities?  

WAF is disappointed and saddened by the failure of Pakistan’s mainstream political parties to recognize the dangers of playing politics on religious grounds. In the past this political opportunism on part of both civilian and military governments resulted in the bargaining away of citizens’ basic rights especially those of women. Today, it has resulted in the drastic erosion of political and civilian power and the strengthening of an unelected extremist lobby. At the same time, by denying their role in the framing and passing of the election law, they have let the blame fall solely on one minister. This unethical and immoral. It is unfortunate that the elected representatives of the people have a played a strong though subordinate role in this chipping away of civilian authority. 

Women Action Forum demands an immediate and unequivocal revocation of the agreement, restoration of the principle of civilian supremacy, arrest of all the goons who held the capital hostage, cases against the arrested terrorists who should be treated according to existing legal provisions, and the implementation of the National Action Plan, especially its provisions against hate speech in curricula, on the streets and in all spaces.  Operation Rudd-ul-Fasaad should be extended to these extremist outfits so that peace and order may be restored in the whole country. 

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