Pakistani dissidents blame military for country’s crises

At key summit, participants call Imran a ‘military puppet’

Terming Prime Minister Imran Khan as a “military puppet,” prominent Pakistani dissidents, including former and current members of Parliament, have blamed the powerful army for the country’s fragility, insecurity and inability to get along with its neighbours.

“Pakistan is under unannounced martial law,” Pashtun leader and former Senator Afrasiab Khattak told the fifth annual conference of South Asians Against Terrorism and for Human Rights (SAATH).

SAATH is a group of pro-democracy Pakistanis co-founded by former Pakistan Ambassador the U.S. Husain Haqqani and U.S.-based columnist Dr. Mohammad Taqi. Previous annual conferences of SAATH have been held in London and Washington but this year participants met virtually, according to a statement.

The participants termed Prime Minister Khan as a military puppet”, it said.

Members of the group include politicians, journalists, bloggers, social media activists, and members of civil society, many of whom have been forced to live in exile in various countries.

Pakistan’s security services have tried to disrupt SAATH meetings in the past and banned its members living in Pakistan from travelling abroad, but this year, the virtual format enabled several prominent dissidents still in the country to participate, the statement said.

‘Minorities are oppressed’

“This is the most dangerous martial law in Pakistan because it has vulgarised and distorted constitutional institutions,” Mr. Khattak said.

Several speakers – including Rubina Greenwood of the World Sindhi Congress, Tahira Jabeen from Gilgit-Baltistan, Shahzad Irfan of the Seraiki Movement, and Rasool Mohammed of Pashtun Council of America – emphasised that various minorities in Pakistan were being oppressed and denied their rights.

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