MANIK AFTAB AND SANA EQBAL

LAHORE-“For Pakistan to rise above its present-day crises, the state that exists within our state has to end,” said veteran politician Afrasiab Khattak.

Khattak was joined by a host of fellow politicians, including Senator Aitzaz Ahsan, Mujtaba Shuja-ur-Rehman of PML-N, Asad Umar of PTI and Dr Asim Sajjad of AWP as they engaged in a session on “Politics, activism and the way forward” at the 3rdFaiz International Festival.

“The elephant in the room is the state within our state. It is involved in political engineering. A man who has been charged with treason claims himself the head of a 23-party alliance,” said Khattak.

“We patronise the Taliban and we talk of change in our country. We must keep in mind that CPEC and Taliban cannot run side by side.”

Senator Aitzaz Ahsan, while referring to the Faizabad protest, said the ruling party passed the recent election amendment regarding declaration on the finality of Prophethood in a hassle.

“They claimed two of their lawmakers had received life threats. Under the bill, it will become mandatory for a person (accused of faking his religious identity) to come up with written proof within 15 days of his religious identity,” he added.

“We need to debate on such stuff. If Jinnah was alive, he would have appointed a Hindu to frame the constitution. That was his dream of Pakistan.”

Ahsan also talked about history books being taught in the curricula. “Our history book during the Zia regime were changed. The history of Pakistan was the history of the Indus Civilisation. Then we became Arabs. Then there was Muhammad bin Qasim,” he said.

Asad Umar, while referring to the current political situation, stressed upon the need for dialogue to end grievances and differences. “Today’s politics is of transactional nature. We need to educate the youth,” he added.

Mujtaba Shujau Rehman talked about government reforms which he said were aimed at empowering the youth, especially women. “Our finance minister in Punjab is a woman,” he added.

The panelists were unanimous in the view that the state must refrain from patronising radical elements, which, they said, were a threat to the country and its people.