A really Naya Pakistan would be one where there is civilian supremacy, it is economically and politically stable and is at peace with its neighbors. Imran Khan’s Naya Pakistan does not appear to be moving in that direction but a group of progressive Pakistanis under the banner of SAATH Forum are seeking that goal.
South Asians Against Terrorism and for Human Rights (SAATH), a grouping of prodemocracy Pakistanis co-hosted by Haqqani and US-based columnist Dr Mohammad Taqi, held its 3rd annual conference this weekend December 14-16, in Washington DC.
According to their press release “SAATH conferences were held in London in 2016 and 2017. This year, the conference was scaled down as some of the forum’s Pakistani participants “were barred or intimidated by authorities from participating. Several prominent Pakistani dissidents currently living in various countries gathered here to “discuss ways of ensuring greater support for pluralist ideas, human rights, and democracy in Pakistan.”
Further, “Terrorism and international isolation, not dissent, are the real threats to Pakistan but unfortunately the authorities refuse to recognise that reality, said former Pakistan Ambassador to the United States, Husain Haqqani, while opening the two-day deliberative conference titled ‘Pakistan After the Elections.’ Addressing the gathering, Haqqani said that the heavy-handed suppression of diverse views in Pakistan would not end the country’s economic crisis nor would it help the government’s stated purpose of projecting a positive image for the country. “The best way to have a positive image is to build a positive reality, one that is free of the taint of terrorism, external dependence, and lack of democracy,” he said.”
Furthermore, the statement added: “In our discussions, we hope to address questions such as where Pakistan stands in the aftermath of the 2018 elections, what are the consequences to Pakistan of mainstreaming terrorists and terror groups, and how might the weakening voices for reform and a liberal vision be strengthened.”
According to Dr Taqi “freedom-loving Pakistanis needed to join hands “to create space for intellectual and political discourse. The Pakistani press remains in chains, electronic media is being coerced into submission, journalists are being hounded, and the political parties have been tamed into submission, he observed, adding that resistance would continue against the authoritarian rule.”