Terrorism linked to the absence of democratic institutions, norms - Pakistan Today

Terrorism linked to the absence of democratic institutions, norms

KARACHI – Speakers at the seminar linked Pakistan’s existing problems, including terrorism, to the absence of democratic institutions and norms. They observed that the state itself is complicit in usurping people’s rights and promoting an elite centric model of development. Denying people the right to have a say in national life has promoted divisions and frictions in the society.
The seminar titled ‘Impacts of Extremism on Working Class’ was organised by the Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (PILER) at the Jashn-e-Faiz event. The speakers included Dr Naeem Ahmed of the Department of International Relations, University of Karachi; Saeed Shamsuddin of the HRCP; Punhal Sario of the Bhandaar Hari Sangat; Dr Haider of the Green Rural Development Organisation; Farid Awan of the Pakistan Workers Confederation; Lateef Mughal of the KESC Workers Union; bonded labour activist Munnoo Bheel; Sheikh Majeed of the PIA Union; Saeed Baloch of the Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum and Karamat Ali, executive director of PILER.
In his presentation on extremism and terrorism, Dr Naeem Ahmed elaborated on the causes and factors associated with terrorism. He argued to dispel the myth that terrorism has roots in poverty. “Rather, terrorism is more linked to a person’s commitment to the cause he or she is espousing,” he observed, adding that there are greater chances of extremism to grow in quasi democracies than in complete authoritarian regimes.
He pointed out that statistics show that since the instatement of the current democratic government, there has been a consistent rise in terrorism that could be attributed to the non serious-attitude of the government towards the issue. Saeed Shamsuddin of the HRCP regretted that labour has no representation in the parliament and decision-making structures of the country. He also observed that organised workers are becoming a minority in Pakistan.
He urged for a redefinition of the legal structure addressing labour issues. Trade union leaders from the KESC highlighted the high-handedness of the power utility’s authorities, which not only continue to crush workers’ rights, but their profit-making drive is also leading to the lack of investment in the electricity generation capacity, depriving consumers of electricity and causing billions of dollars of loss to the economy.
They observed that the rise in fundamentalism and terrorism has created an environment where the state has little inclination to pay attention to the real issues of people. “There are very important citizenship and basic rights issues including landlessness, housing, livelihood and now food security. The state’s preoccupation with crisis management, as well as its own complicity in promoting an elite centric model of development that is seriously undermining basic rights and pushing people further down the spiral of poverty and vulnerability,” they said.
The union leaders also notified their concern over the emerging legislative and institutional structure concerning labour in the backdrop of the 18th Amendment. “Dismantling of specific national institutions addressing labour issues is likely to further compromise general labour rights including right to unionisation. The new IRA of Punjab is a case in point that carries very restrictive provisions towards labour unions,” they said.
Saeed Baloch of the Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum said that Pakistan and India’s refusal to make peace with each other has had the most negative impact on fishermen of the two countries. “The detention of fishermen from the two sides, as Pakistan and India both refuse to work on a lasting solution to resolve the issue, continues to threaten the security and well being of the fishermen.” Karamat Ali of PILER urged workers to work on issues simultaneously.
“No two issues are mutually exclusive. The issue of rights is linked to peace which is linked to the economic progress of the country and the region. The tendency to work on specific micro issues while ignoring the larger macro issues will continue to undermine any struggle related to rights in the country.
Fundamentalism is linked to absence of democratic norms in the country and unless that is addressed, there is little likelihood of any improvement in the general condition of people,” he said.

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