KARACHI - Human rights, labour rights, women rights, writers, journalists and civil society activists have demanded revival of the spirit of Lahore Resolution by signing a new social contract in which deprived sections of the society could get their due share in parliament and resources.

Addressing a joint press conference here at Arts Council of Pakistan, the civil society and rights activists said that Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah had a clear vision about the new country, but the vision was not followed by his  successors, and even after 70 years of Pakistan’s independence people were deprived of their fundamental rights.

Arts Council of Pakistan, Karachi President Ahmed Shah, PILER Executive Director Karamat Ali, Sindh Labour Solidarity Committee Coordinator Habibuddin Junaidi, Aurat Foundation Resident Director Mahnaz Rahman, Maqtida Mansoor Khan, columnist and analyst, Nazim F Haji, a businessman, Naghma Iqtidar, social and political activist, Dr Ayub Sheikh, journalist and Editor of Awami Awaz, and civil society activist Umer Farooque spoke on the occasion.

They pointed out that society was facing intolerance, religious extremism and division and these ills were increasing with the passage of time.

They opined that disparity in the society had increased which had resulted in widespread unrest.

“We are supporters of democracy and will soon launch a People’s Manifesto, which would be shared with people in general and political parties in particular,” said Ahmed Shah.

Quoting the Lahore Resolution of March 23rd 1940, Karamat Ali of PILER said, “Though the Lahore Resolution provided the basis for the creation of Pakistan and we celebrate this day annually, but the current state of affairs of the country are totally in contrast to the spirit of the resolution.”

“Hence, we believe that it is important to remind ourselves that we need to revert to the spirit of resolution if we are sincere in bringing the country out of present day crisis,” he emphasised.

“There is no voice for poor and the down-trodden people in Pakistan. No poor can think of reaching the parliament and there is a dire need for introducing electoral reforms in Pakistan to give true representation to the poor, women and people belonging to the backward areas like Balochistan,” he observed.

Quoting another speech of Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah at All India Muslim League’s meeting in Delhi on March 24, 1943, he said that the founder of Pakistan had a clear realisation of problems of the poor.

He asked the landlords and capitalists to change their attitude of exploitation; otherwise, there would be no place for them in new Pakistan.

He recalled that Quaid-e-Azam had told the big landlords and wealthy people that due to hard work of poor they enjoyed prosperity, but this economic system was absolutely exploitative in nature.

Another speaker said that the 1973 Constitution provided a fair deal of basic citizenship entitlements and rights for a modern society, therefore, there was an urgent need for putting in place institutional mechanisms necessary to fulfill constitutional obligations of the state towards citizens without any discrimination.

“The issue of increasing religious extremism and terrorism in the country can only be addressed by ensuring the provision of political, economic, social and cultural rights to all citizens,” he said, and added that in order to achieve the objective, there was an urgent need for serious reforms in the basic policy framework.

“There is need to overhaul country’s criminal justice system and bring in immediate reforms in police system,” he said, and added, “More than century-old 1861 police law needs to be replaced with a new one that matches with current day realities.”