PAC condemns ‘operation smoke out’

Public Affairs Committee (PAC), the prominent civil society, interfaith organisation made up of the main Protestant, Catholic and Muslim faith groups in Malawi has condemned the arson attack at Institute for Policy Interaction (IPI) offices in the commercial capital, Blantyre.

Arsonists suspected to be operatives of ruling DPP on Friday broke window panes at IPI offices at Lali Lubani Road near Wanderers Club and threw in a suspected petrol bomb, according to Samuel Milepa who lives at IPI’s compound.

IPI is headed by Rafiq Hajat, one of Malawi’s leading rights activists and a fierce critic of President Bingu wa Mutharika.

In a media statement made available to Nyasa Times, the multi-faith organisation condemned the attack, saying the  acts   represent  “ a  barbaric  attitude  designed  to  stifle   the  operations  of  human  rights  defenders  in  Malawi.”

Torched: IPI offices

PAC , meanwhile,  asked Police  to  investigate  the  perpetrators  behind  this barbaric  act –dubbed operation smoke out –   and  bring  them  to  book.

Recently, Hajat – one of the key organisers of anti-government protests said he was leading a “solitary existence” following threats from President Mutharika to “smoke out” organisers of the demonstration. The President accused the protesters of committing treason.

Reads the statement signed by PAC acting chairperson Reverend Macdonald Kadawati: “In  any  democratic  society,  we  expect  people  to  debate  issues  amicably  rather  than  targeting  individuals  because  they  differ from  their  viewpoints.”

The statement said the  development  does  not  only  cast  doubt  on  some  stakeholders  that  have been bent  on  using  intimidation as  their  appropriate  weapon  for  sustaining  their  opinions  and  aspirations, but  also  demonstrate  a  cowardly  approach  to  dealing  with  opponents  within  the  framework  of  good  governance .

“While  the   public  is  not  yet  clear   on  what   motivations  were  behind  such  unfortunate   attack,  the  circumstances  surrounding   the  act  point  to a deliberate  political  intimidation   which  does  not  have any  place  in  our  democratic  dispensation,” the religious grouping said.

PAC   said it will  not  tolerate  such  conduct  whether   it  emanates  from  political  or  any  other  institution  that   is  determined  to  derail  peaceful  political  processes.

“ It  is  disturbing  to  note  that  what  our  country  is  going  through  does  not  represent  the  aspirations  of  many  Malawians  who fought  for  political  change  in  the  country,” said the organisating.

It said : “ With  the  undemocratic  developments  our  country  is  experiencing,  we   feel  our  democracy  is  being  tested  to  its  limits.”

However,   PAC  urged Malawians   to  remain  steadfast   to  the  principles  and  norms  of  democracy  , human  rights  and  rule  of  law and said  Malawians  should be ready  to  fight  for  democracy  till  to  the  end .

“As  far  as  the  contemporary  world  is  concerned ,  no  dictatorial  system  has   survived  for  long, given that  its  tentacles  are  devoid  of  a place in   the  globalized  world . We  appeal to   faith based  organizations,  civil  society organizations  and  other  stakeholders  to  join  hands  as  we strive  to  restore  our  democratic  values,” said the statement.

PAC also appealed to Malawians to co-exist peacefully.

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