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LAHORE: Chairman Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and the Foreign Minister of Pakistan, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari in his speech at the fourth annual Asma Jahangir Conference paying rich tributes to leading human rights activist Asma Jahangir said that Jahangir used to guide him from time to time. She was a role model not only for human rights activists but for him, as well.

Chairman PPP said that everything is not rosy in Pakistan at the moment but nation should note that the democratic forces and institutions have progressed. All political parties should also work for more improvement.

He said: “we sent the former prime minister, Imran Khan home through a democratic process which was of the no-confidence motion. We removed a PM who assumed power through undemocratic means by using the democratic path. Before this, prime ministers were either removed by being sent to the gallows, eliminated by bomb blasts, exiled, and disqualified through courts or by orders from ‘Gate no. 4’."

Bilawal Bhutto said the nation is facing a result of the suicide attack of former premier Imran Khan on the country’s economy.

He said that Imran Khan attacked the country’s economy to save his politics. The truth is that the criticism of all political parties on Imran Khan’s economic policies is on the record.

He said we saved Pakistan from default. Pakistan faced the biggest climate catastrophe, the likes of which we have never seen in our country. From Gilgit Baltistan to South Punjab, and from there to Balochistan and Sindh, every location has been impacted. The cameras are not there anymore; hence, the lack of recent viral videos, but the victims are still struggling from the floods.

Bilawal says Imran’s disqualification ‘just a beginning’

Thirty-three million is such a big number, it is hard to quantify. Thirty-three million people have been affected by the floods that are 1 in every 7 Pakistani. One-third of Pakistan, when it comes to the land mass, has been affected which is more than the land mass of the UK and more than 95% of the population of Canada.

Right now, we have to not only help the victims, but also send a message worldwide that we are not at fault for the devastation that we are facing today. Pakistan contributes only 0.8% to the global carbon footprint as far as climate change is concerned, and Pakistan is the 8th most affected country in the world. This means that the cost of the industrialization of the rich countries is being carried by our people, he added.

He demanded justice from all the countries that have contributed to climate change. If all jointly combat the challenges posed by climate change, only then can we get a solution for it.

He appealed to international, financial institutional infrastructure to fund the relief and rescue of thirty-three million flood-hit people at once, and then for the reconstruction and rehabilitation for these thirty-three million people.

As far as the floods and their victims are concerned, all of Pakistan’s political parties have to form a consensus to battle this issue. Political differences and issues will continue, but we cannot forget those who were suffering, he added.

He appealed the people to not forget the flood victims as they were still sleeping under an open sky, without shelter. Out of the thirty-three million, sixteen million were children and six hundred thousand are pregnant women. The thirty-three million were not only suffering from a loss of shelter but also facing water-borne diseases, he maintained.

Around 4.5 million acres of standing crop was destroyed. People want help and support so that they could emerge from this crisis, he said.

He said that whoever participates in the Asma Jahangir Conference defends not only the democracy and the parliamentary system of the country but ensures to save next generation from religious and political extremism.

Former Prime Minister of Pakistan, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and MNA PTI, Munaza Hassan, senior members of the judiciary, members of the national and foreign legislatures, diplomats, international experts, lawyers, journalists, activists and representatives from the government participated in the conference.

The title of the conference was the crisis of constitutionalism in South Asia. In keeping with the theme and the desperate times in region, activists from neighbouring countries were invited including Afghan women’s rights activist from Kabul, Mehbouba Seraj, digital rights activist from Iran, Mahsa Alimardani, and President of the World Kashmir Movement, Muzzamil Ayyub Thakkur.

The themes for this year’s conference were Constitutionalism and the Role of Institutions; Gender, Justice and Equality; Human Security Right to Employment; Livelihood and Equality; Extremism and Militancy; Challenges to Peaceful Co-Existence; and the Onslaught on Civil Society in South Asia.

In total there were 22 sessions on a broad range of topics. Some of the more notable sessions were on climate change, floods and rehabilitation of vulnerable communities after the floods; disenfranchisement in Balochistan and the need for political dialogue; the crisis in Afghanistan and its impact on women and girls; religious intolerance in Kashmir; enforced disappearances and arbitrary detentions; social media regulation; media under siege in India, Sri Lanka and Pakistan; transgender rights; the need for constitutional courts; making deals with the Afghan Taliban and its fallout; constitutional duties of a speaker, and several sessions focusing on regional and national issues impacting the rule of law and separation of powers between the executive, judiciary and legislature.

Notable speakers included Qazi Faez Isa, Senior Puisne Judge of the Supreme Court of Pakistan; Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, Chairperson of the PPP; Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, former Prime Minister of Pakistan; Dr. Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu, Founding Executive Director of the Centre for Policy Alternatives; Raza Rabbani, 7th Chairman of the Senate & former Federal Minister for Law & Justice; Ahsan Bhoon President, Supreme Court Bar Association; Azam Nazeer, Tarar Federal Minister of Law & Justice; Latif Afridi, former President Supreme Court Bar Association of Pakistan; Antonio-Martín Porras Gómez, expert in Constitutional Law, La Universidad de Barcelona; Dr. Abdul Malik Baloch, 21st Chief Minister of Balochistan; Qasim Khan Suri, 19th Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly; Omar Zakhilwal, former Afghan Ambassador to Pakistan; former Finance Minister, Afghanistan, Mahbouba Seraj; Afghan Journalist & Women’s Rights Activist, Sima Sama; former Minister of Women’s Affairs, Afghanistan, Atif Mian (virtually); Economist & Co-Founder CERP, Director of Julis-Rabinowitz Center for Public Policy and Finance, Princeton University’; Alan Keenan, Senior Consultant on Sri Lanka, International Crisis Group, Baba Jan, Civil Rights & Climate Change Activist, Naz Baloch, Parliamentary Secretary Climate Change, David Kaye, former UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression, Dr. Pervez Hoodbhoy, Professor; education author & activist for the promotion of secularism; Tapan K. Bose, Indian activist & director, South Asia Forum for Human Rights; Syed Haider Farooq Maududi, Islamic scholar; Hamid Mir, award-winning Pakistani journalist & columnist; Steven Butler, journalist & senior program consultant, Committee to Protect Journalists; Daniel Bastard, Asia-Pacific Director, Reporters Without Borders; Malini Subramaniam, independent journalist & former head, International Committee of the Red Cross Chhattisgarh Chapter (India); Dilrukshi Handunnetti, international award-winning investigative journalist & lawyer; Reem Alsalem, UN Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women; Dr. Rosena Allin Khan, Member, British Parliament; Dr. Muhammad Khalid Masud, Religious Scholar & Ad-hoc Judge of the Shariat Appellate Bench, Supreme Court of Pakistan; Irfan Qadir, former Attorney General for Pakistan; Nader Nadery, former Member, Afghan Peace Negotiation Team & Former Advisor to Afghan President; Mehnaz Akber Aziz, Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Law & Justice, Member of the National Assembly, PML-N.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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Cassim Oct 24, 2022 06:42am
What about Asif Zardari 6 trillion loan for rental power which delivered 0 MW and now loan has spurned to more than 50 trillion rupees? He will be remembered as Economic Hitman or Gorbachev of Pakistan ...
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Papa Az_Iz Oct 24, 2022 11:57am
Well said future PM
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Papa Az_Iz Oct 24, 2022 12:02pm
Request the current government to lock cult leader behind bars forever.
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Papa Az_Iz Oct 24, 2022 12:03pm
@Cassim, where did you get this information? From PTI social media?
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Cassim Khan Oct 24, 2022 01:32pm
@Papa Az_Iz Asif Ali Zardari and Co corruption cases are every where. You will find them everywhere in main media. Soon Netflix documentary Behind Closed doors will be coming out on it as well. You live like ostrich then you will die like ostrich.
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