October 13, 2019

Curtailing freedoms and liberties of a people limit collective progress and development.


It would be naïve to pretend that the general understanding of democracy is linked to holding of elections only. Our political history is rich in instances that have taught us that a truly democratic system cannot exist without guaranteeing many rights and liberties. Unfortunately, despite that realisation, we have continued to struggle to achieve the bare minimum, let alone the ideal.

This week, we explore the reality behind concerns raised by politicians, activists, professionals and practitioners of shrinking intellectual, critical and political spaces within the Pakistani society. Curtailing freedoms and liberties of a people limit collective progress and development. From work in development sector, including education and health, to freedoms of expression and association, spaces for gender, politics and religion, we try to understand the ways in which the Pakistani society has been modified, unfortunately not for the better, over the years.

Also read: "There are announced and unannounced curbs on freedom of association"

What is interesting is the manner in which our thoughts have been shaped, in what appears to be a form distant from what we had envisioned at the time of independence. The ‘purging’ of our culture, language and arts of identities which go a long way back have left us in a state where we struggle to identify ourselves. Religious freedoms and social values are determined by a segment that holds hostage the entire society’s collective morality.

In times like these, the challenge is to remain committed to a democratic system that ensures the provision of our fundamental rights. Are we willing to give democracy that fair chance? And in the process, are we also willing to reclaim our lost spaces?