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=> At a two-day national convention of the Women’s Ac

At a two-day national convention of the Women’s Action Forum (WAF) Pakistan that ended in Karachi on Saturday, activists from Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad held President Musharraf’s regime’s responsible for the current crisis and deteriorating situation where smaller provinces are being exploited at the hands of the center.

Paying a tribute to former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto at the Pakistan Institute of International Affairs, politicians condemned the interference of the centre in provincial affairs and demanded “fuller provincial autonomy within a federal structure” to address the grievances where the centre would ‘only facilitate the federation and provinces.

Members of the WAF stated that the collusion of global neo-liberal forces and the privatisation agenda, the economic crisis has led to an acute shortage of wheat and severe energy crisis that is having adverse impacts on economic productivity. They said that the situation could only be countered if the present regime immediately stepped down and formed a neutral government of national consensus, allowing democracy to take root in its real form.

Speakers on the occasion lauded the efforts of Bhutto who brought back the hope of democracy after her return from self-exile. “Benazir’s battle with dictatorships has been the worst of its kind. Her battle was against imperialists and the neo-colonial agenda of the West. We have to continue her democratic legacy,” said politician Nafisa Shah of the PPP. She disagreed with the state’s view that the current war was against terrorism saying ‘it is nothing but an extension of the US campaign against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan that it left off in the 1980s and is now using that Afghan Jihad to build pressure on Pakistan. “It is a strange contradiction that the U.S. labels us as a terrorist state and an ally on war against terror at the same time.”

To express their solidarity on the death of Bhutto, artiste Sheema Kirmani, Urdu poetess Fehmida Riaz, Irfana Mallah (of WAF, Hyderabad) read their verses, while Sherry Rehman of PPP, Mehtab Akbar Rashidi and Amar Sindhu shared their memories and experiences with Bhutto. The convention was followed by a candle light vigil by members of WAF. Politicians Fauzia Wahab, Shazia Marri and Justice (Retd) Majida Rizvi, among others, were also present at the occasion.

Source: The News

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