by New Worker correspondent
ABOUT 45 to 50 people packed a committee room in the House of Commons to express serious concern at, and protest against, the repressive measures taken by Pakistan’s General Musharraf to silence opposition.
The meeting was organised by the All Party Parliamentary Group on Third World solidarity and chaired by the APPG’s Dave Anderson MP.
Three MPs were amongst the speakers, including Khalid Mahmood and MPs from Birmingham and Leeds. Several persons from the media directly involved with Pakistan, namely, Mohammad Ziauddin, Saundra Satterlee and Amer Ghauri also addressed the meting.
All speakers expressed their serious indignation at General Musharraf’s latest measures of his dictatorial regime. Councillor Mushtaq Lasharie maintained that the so-called declaration of emergency was in fact nothing but a martial law. This was later echoed by several others.
The media speakers highlighted the growing struggle between the Pakistani media and General Musharraf. His loud and hypocritical talk about freedom of the press is presented with various repressive measures against the newspapers and the TV.
This is particularly crucial as most Pakistanis, deprived of adequate literacy, rely on the TV for their information. There was an advocacy of imposing foreign sanctions against the Pakistan government, but there were differences on this issue.
Earlier, the British Foreign Secretary had issued a four point statement to the APPG meeting, in which he asked the Pakistan government “to guarantee free and fair elections on schedule in January”. Lord Ahmad of Rotherham in his contribution suggested that sanctions should be applied exclusively against the army generals and their families, who should be regarded as terrorists as well.
A spokesperson of the Britain South Asia Solidarity Forum pointed out from the floor that the root of Pakistan’s perpetual problems lies in its feudal socio-economic set up. This was supported by Dr Ghayasuddin Siddiqui, who maintained that the collaboration of the country’s clerics with the army constituted the basic problem. The meeting ended with a determination of solidarity with the people of Pakistan fighting for democracy and social justice.