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ROME COUNCIL - For a More Equal Global Society

20-21 January 2003


1. The Socialist International continues to be concerned by the lack of democracy in Pakistan. Only democratic rule of law, based on full respect for human rights, free and fair elections and transparent and accountable government, can guarantee peace and security for the people of Pakistan and between Pakistan and its neighbours.

The Socialist International is specifically concerned that in August, following the fraud and coerced voting reported by independent observers during the referendum in April 2002, the regime in Pakistan summarily announced constitutional amendments that formalised the military's role in government.

The Socialist International is also concerned that the regime has continued to exert control over the electoral system, so that Human Rights Watch, on the eve of the 10 October 2002 parliamentary elections, referred to the electoral process as "deeply flawed," with the "vote stacked against democratic rule," while the European Union stated after the vote that there were "serious flaws in the electoral process".

The International also notes that following the elections the Commonwealth of Nations decided to maintain the suspension of Pakistan's membership from the organisation.

At the same time, the International views with satisfaction that its member Pakistan People's Party gained a plurality of the votes despite the enormous disadvantages and electoral manipulation that it faced and that it now holds a substantial number of seats in the National Assembly.

2. The Socialist International calls on the regime in Pakistan to reverse the anti-democratic measures it has taken, particularly that it allow the people of Pakistan to enjoy the full range of political freedoms and civil liberties as provided under international law.

It also calls again for the release of Senator Asif Ali Zardari, who is now in his seventh year of imprisonment without having been convicted of a crime, and who is suffering from a lack of medical treatment for a serious spinal ailment.

And it reaffirms its solidarity and support for the Pakistan People's Party and all the people of Pakistan who continue to work and struggle for the restoration of democracy.