Pakistan a wicket away from Authoritarianism

I want to dive into a topic that has been keeping me up at night: the current situation in Pakistan. Specifically, I’m deeply concerned about the suppression of journalistic freedoms and the erosion of democracy happening over there. It’s not just a distant issue either; as a British Pakistani, it hits close to home and raises serious worries about the safety of our loved ones.

Let’s start with the alarming case of journalist Imran Riaz Khan, who was detained without proper justification. It’s a blatant attack on free speech and a direct threat to transparency and accountability. When journalists can’t do their jobs without fear of retribution, it shakes the very foundations of democracy. We need to stand up and fight for their rights, not just for their sake, but for the sake of a free and open society.

One incident that shook me to the core was Imran Khan’s arrest, right from the premises of a court hearing. The aftermath of this arrest was devastating, with riots erupting and tragically leading to the loss of 50 innocent lives as security forces opened fire on protestors. It’s incredibly disheartening to see such violence and a blatant disregard for human life in the pursuit of political agendas.

But let’s not forget that the challenges faced by PTI politicians go beyond this shocking event. They are subjected to immense pressure and intimidation, forcing them to abandon their parties merely to secure bail. It’s truly unfathomable to think that elected officials, who should be representing the voices of the people, are being subjected to physical abuse and torture simply for standing up for their beliefs. It’s a stark reminder of authoritarian regimes, where political dissent is suppressed, and individual freedoms are trampled upon.

As members of the Liberal Democrats, we have a duty to protect democracy and uphold human rights. Our historical ties with Pakistan, combined with the significant British Pakistani community, give us a unique opportunity to make a difference. We need to be vocal advocates for press freedom and condemn any erosion of democratic values. By doing so, we can contribute to the well-being of British Pakistanis and support a stable Pakistan that embraces democratic principles.

Now, let’s take a step back and draw lessons from history. It’s important to remember the tragic events of 1971 when Pakistan experienced a bloody civil war. Millions of lives were lost, leaving scars that still resonate today. We must reflect on this dark chapter as a stark reminder of the consequences of unchecked repression and the importance of safeguarding democratic values.

Fast forward to the present day, and we find ourselves in a situation where the implications are enormous. The arrests, the public displays of military dominance, and the escalating tensions paint a grim picture. With a population of 250 million and nuclear capabilities, the risks of a potential civil war are too great to ignore. We can’t sit idly by while lives are at stake and regional stability hangs in the balance.

My mother still resides in Pakistan because she has a deep-rooted connection with the land and wishes to spend her twilight years there, away from the hustle and bustle of the UK. Like many British Pakistanis, she desires a better Pakistan. However, what worries me the most is the possibility of her being arrested for simply expressing her opinion. This is the harsh reality of present-day Pakistan, where individuals are “picked up” and not heard from until their “software has been updated.” These are euphemisms for being arrested and subjected to torture until they break. How can such actions ever be deemed acceptable?

It is our responsibility to make a meaningful impact and ensure that the flame of democracy continues to burn brightly. We cannot turn a blind eye to repression, especially considering the suffering Pakistan has endured at the hands of terrorism over the past 20 years. We cannot allow a country like Pakistan to fall into the grasp of those who disregard basic human rights. Instead, we should strive for a modern, democratic Pakistan that embraces progress and moves forward with the times.


* Mo Waqas is a member in Gateshead East.

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This entry was posted in Op-eds.


  • I’m all about standing up for what’s right and pushing democracy in Pakistan. Look, I can’t just wave a magic wand and change everything there, but that won’t stop me from making some noise. I’m all about advocating for democratic principles, whether it’s within my party or on the global stage. We need to protect civil liberties, ensure transparency in governance, and fight for free and fair elections.

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