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Senior politicians agree democracy should continue, corruption should be eliminated

Senior politicians agree democracy should continue, corruption should be eliminated

Senior leaders of the country's major political parties seemed to have reached a tenous agreement on some key policy points after a heated and bitter debate at a multi-party conference organised on Saturday by the Lahore High Court Bar Association (LHCBA).

Addressing the conference, PML-N leader Khawaja Saad Rafique said that it is not right for any politician to consider themselves to be above criticism.

"Everybody knows that the ruling party is being provoked," he complained. "Somebody is constantly turning the key; a trailer is being played. We will respond and retaliate in these circumstances," he stated, alluding to the constant pressure the PML-N feels it faces from its main opposition party.

"If you want to affect change through the vote, you will need to go through the electoral process," he reasoned.

Hitting back, Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf leader Shah Mehmood Qureshi said the country could not progress till the "corrupt system" was dismantled.

"It is concerning that somebody who is not an elected leader has been made the leader of a national political party," he said, taking aim at Nawaz Sharif.

Close ally Sheikh Rasheed of the Awami Muslim League was more unreserved.

"Democracy will only be saved once we start hanging corrupt ministers," he said. "The incumbent government has taken on more loans than any other setup in the last 70 years," he added, insinuating foul play.

The Pak Sarzameen Party's Mustafa Kamal was more even-handed. Though he praised Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif for doing a good job, he asked if repairing roads and constructing roads and bridges was the chief minister's job. "These things should be done by the mayor," he said.

The PPP's Sardar Latif Khosa made it clear that no strongman would be allowed to override the democratic process. "We politicians can take Pakistan to new heights if we work together," he said.

The Awami Tehreek's Khurram Nawaz Gandapur said democracy had been strengthened in the Western world by setting up systems to dispense justice. "Those who are prattling on about democracy seem to have forgotten that there is no democracy without justice," he said.

At the end of the discussion, LHCBA President Zulfiqar Chaudhry read out a joint declaration issued by the conference participants: martial law will be opposed, democracy will continue, timely elections will be ensured, and the US's recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital will be condemned as a deeply flawed decision.

The meeting's participants also agreed on the need to eliminate an unspecified "corruption mafia" and to work on repatriating wealth removed from the country through money laundering.

The politicians also agreed that the judiciary should not be subjected to ridicule and contempt.

Other points of agreement included the creation of jobs and ensuring that the upcoming elections are held on the basis of fresh delimitation of constituencies.

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