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> The Dialogue Group on Civil-Military Relations calls for Parliamentary elections before Presidential polls; a political approach to resolving the Balochistan issue
   9th Sitting

May 08, 2007
PILDAT, Islamabad


The Dialogue Group on Civil-Military Relations held its 9th session in Islamabad on May 08, 2007. Focusing on prospective developments in the next few months which are extremely significant for Pakistan, the Group concluded that to ensure a transition to complete and authentic democracy, the following four (4) steps are of critical urgency and importance:


1.      That elections to the National Assembly and the Provincial Assemblies be held before the elections for the next Presidential term.

2.      That the offices of the President and the Chief of Army Staff represent separate institutional functions of the State and that they should not be held by one and the same person.

3.      That the appointment of the Chief Election Commissioner be made only after meaningful consultation with the leaders of all political parties represented in the Parliament. The empowerment of the Chief Election Commissioner and the Election Commission of Pakistan is essential for transparent elections which are not only held in fact and practice, but are also perceived by the people to be free, fair and transparent.  For this purpose, it is necessary for the District Administrations to be placed under the effective control of the Chief Election Commissioner during the next elections.

4.      That elections be held only under neutral and impartial caretaker governments with full authority, both at the centre and the provinces, constituted after meaningful consultation with the leaders of all political parties represented in Parliament.


The Group also deliberated on the situation arising from the Presidential Reference against the Chief Justice of Pakistan and the latter’s suspension from office, the petitions filed in the Supreme Judicial Council and the Supreme Court and the latest developments.


After a comprehensive review of the legal, judicial and broader political and national dimensions of the situation arising from the suspension of the Chief Justice, the Group concluded that the manner in which the Chief Justice was treated was most inappropriate and unacceptable by all norms of civilised conduct.


In its deliberations, the Group referred to the letter which it had addressed 10 months ago on July 08, 2006 to the President, the Prime Minister of Pakistan and to the Leaders of all Political Parties represented in Parliament in which, amongst other issues, the Group had made the following 2 observations that are particularly relevant in the context of today’s crisis:



-          Besides being a constitutional office, the office of President of Pakistan is also a political office. Combining the Presidency with the office of Chief of Army Staff politicizes the latter post as well as the Army.

-          Democracy can only be authentic when there is real separation of powers and when all institutions of the State abide by the roles assigned to them by the constitution.



The Group further concluded that, in view of the pendency of this important issue before the full Supreme Court, it is incumbent on all to exercise due restraint and to await the final judgment of the Court. Even though the case is of fundamental relevance and importance to the political structure and to political discourse, the Court should be enabled to complete its deliberations without being subject to any overt or covert attempts to influence its proceedings.


In the proceedings of the meeting, the Group deliberated on the Balochistan situation, with special reference to a paper prepared on the Balochistan Conflict by Lt. Gen. (Retd.) Abdul Qadir Baloch, former Governor of Balochistan and former Corps Commander, Quetta. Senator Salim Saifullah Khan, Federal Minister for Inter-Provincial Coordination attended this part of the session by special invitation.


The Group noted that substantial investments in physical infrastructure and in measures for socio-economic uplift are visible and measurable in Balochistan. The Group was briefed by the Federal Minister for Inter-Provincial Coordination, Senator Salim Saifullah Khan to the effect that 11 recommendations from the Report of the Parliamentary Committee on Balochistan of November 02, 2005 headed by Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed had already been implemented, while 22 recommendations were in the process of being implemented. Only 5 recommendations have not been accepted.


However, the Group concluded that the Balochistan situation represents a serious national concern which requires a political, democratic approach respectful of the views and sentiments of all those who live in Balochistan, regardless of whether they are members of, or are represented in the Federal and Provincial legislatures.


At this time, there is a need to initiate and conduct a sustained and all-inclusive dialogue that ensures participation of all segments of political and civil society in Balochistan. For this purpose, it is essential that any actions taken to enforce the law target only those who are using violence and that law-enforcement agencies strictly refrain from killing and injuring innocent citizens who happen to be residents of areas where violence has occurred. At the same time, the Group also deplored the wilful destruction of infrastructure and gas pipelines through terrorist activities in Balochistan.


The Group observed that the Balochistan problem has principally arisen because the people of Balochistan are genuinely convinced that they have been excluded, marginalised and discriminated against in some basic respects. These include, amongst others, lack of sense of ownership over their own natural resources, grossly inadequate compensation for such natural resources, low-levels of education, health care and basic services, arrest and persecution of political leaders, disappearance of activists, covert interference in political and electoral processes.


The Dialogue Group on Civil-Military Relations is facilitated by PILDAT (Pakistan Institute of Legislative Development And Transparency), an independent organisation committed to strengthening democracy and democratic institutions in Pakistan. The Group was constituted in September 2004. The group has been holding consultations with an aim to address the issues which impact the civil-Military relations which are at the heart of issues relating to the democratization of and long-term stability and progress in Pakistan. The Group includes civil personalities as well as former military officers who have served in prominent positions.


Names of members who endorsed the statement include Lt. Gen. (Retd.) Abdul Qadir Baloch, Former Governor Baluchistan; Corps Commander Quetta; Lt. Gen. (Retd.) Asad Durrani, Former Director General, Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI); Dr. Hasan-Askari Rizvi, Defence and Political Analyst; Mr. Javed Jabbar, Former Senator and Federal Minister for Information & Media Development; Lt. Gen. (Retd.) Moinuddin Haider, Former Governor Sindh; Mr. Mujib-ur-Rehman Shami, Editor-in-Chief, Daily Pakistan, former President CPNE; Dr. Parvez Hassan, Lawyer; Mr. Shafqat Mahmood, Former Senator and Provincial Minister; Brig. (Retd.) Shaukat Qadir, Former Vice President, Islamabad Policy Research Institute; Lt. Gen. (Retd.) Talat Masood, Former Federal Secretary; Political and Security Analyst; Mr. Ahmed Bilal Mehboob, Executive Director, and Ms. Aasiya Riaz, Joint Director of PILDAT.