Raza Rabbani concerned over shrinking space for freedom of expression

Stressing that peace was a prerequisite for economic progress and political stability of the country, Pakistan Peoples Party’s (PPP) central leader Mian Raza Rabbani on Friday said political parties had joined the recently formed Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) to launch a peaceful campaign for the ouster of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf-led government.

He added that the rulers must know that political activists were not afraid of jails and arrests. He was addressing a conference on Bacha Khan and his philosophy of non-violence. The Awami National Party (ANP) Sindh chapter had organized the event to mark International Day of Non-Violence, which is observed on October 2. Rabbani, who has also served as the Senate chairman, said political parties and civil society were perturbed by the rapidly eroding space for freedom of expression in the country.

Condemning the arrest of Jang/Geo Group Editor-in-Chief Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman, he said that the journalist was punished and kept in detention for over 200 days in a baseless case only for not bowing to the government’s pressure.

He said people and political activists of the country had always struggled for the revival of democracy in peaceful way but regimes had used force against them, and imprisoned and tortured them. Rabbani stressed the need for promoting Bacha Khan’s message of peace and non-violence. “Bacha Khan was not only a politician but he was also a campaigner for reforms in society as well as a symbol of non-violent movement in the Subcontinent,” he said.

ANP Sindh President Shahi Syed said the basic purpose of observing the day was to create awareness about the philosophy of Bacha Khan. “Adherence to the non-violent philosophy of Bacha Khan could help the country come out of the current crisis,” he said.

Syed added that ANP leaders had played their role for peace even in the worst of the circumstances by sticking to Bacha Khan’s philosophy of ‘non-violence’. He remarked that Karachi had experienced bloodshed in the past 25 years. Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl Sindh deputy chief Maulana Abdul Karim Abid, PPP leader Taj Haider, Qaumi Awami Tehreek Secretary General Mazhar Rahojo, journalist Mujahid Barelvi, trade unionist Manzoor Razi and other leaders also spoke.

Newspaper: The News