ISLAMABAD:(APS) November 25,2016- Panelists at a seminar “ Democracies in transition and challenges they face” Friday emphasized the need for bring women and youth in to the mainstream of political process for democratization of the society and have called for a proactive and vibrant role of the civil society and political parties to create awareness among the masses in this regard. The Senate hosted this first ever regional hot topic seminar on, “Democracies in transition, and the challenges they face” in collaboration with Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA).
The extraordinary event took place as result of CPA’s new strategic plan which calls for strengthening the Association at branch, regional and international levels through different communications. Pakistan in its capacity as a member of the Asian region volunteered to host this seminar as part of the new and evolved strategy.
The two day seminar came to end with interactive panel discussions and debates on the role of civil society in democratic transition , democracy and diversity and transparency standards in democracy. Renowned scholars, parliamentarians , human rights activists, representative of civil society organizations including IA Rehman , Secretary General , Human Rights Commission of Pakistan , Zafarullah Khan Executive Director PIPS , Prof. Dr. Syed Jafar Ahmed Director , Pakistan Study Centre , University of Karachi, Wasim Sajjad Ex-Chairman Senate, Senator Sherry Rehman, Senator Farhatullah Babar , Dr. Anis Haroon , Former Chairperson National Commission on the Status of Women, Zahid Abdullah , PM RTI and Shahid Fayyaz , CEO FAFEN and CPA Secretary General Akbar Khan shared their thoughts on this occasion.
Zafarullah Khan said that Pakistani society is a society that has paid highest per capita sacrifices to sustain its democratic dreams, rule of law and right to be governed democratically. He said that youth is the future of Pakistan’s democratic excellence. People rendered sacrifices for upholding democratic norms and values and trade unions, labor unions emerged to occupy democratic space in Pakistan. “ political parties and civil society have to work together in order to achieve the democratic dream” , Zafarullah Khan added.
Dr. Jaffar Iqbal pointed out that there is always a room for improvement in democracy and all democracies have clauses of amendments , making it evolutionary and always in transition.
He said that elections are key to democratic systems . The Legislature and executive , he said is a conversion chamber that converts social demands and expectations into laws, policies and tangible forms and is transferred to society.
He said that democracy in Pakistan witnessed many ups and downs and civil society thus could not evolve. He proposed a closer collaboration between civil society and the political parties.
IA Rehman said that democratic institutions are not functioning as they should but some big steps have been taken towards better democratic values. He said that CSOs act like a watchdog and point out issues and problems with the governance but it can help in democratization of the society. A non democratic society can not enjoy a democratic government.
Senator Sherry Rehman during her remarks on Democracy in Diversity said that diversity is very open and clear term. She said that 9/11 proved a a turning point in our contemporary history where diversity has become a premiere global and national challenge around the world. She said that terrorism and threats define all the notions.” We stand at a huge moment of global transition as rights under law are being challenged everywhere at the hands of terrorism and fear is being used to advocate all ills relating to diversity and its acceptance”. She said that leaving out women in representation is a danger to diversity and democracy.
Dr. Anis Haroon paid rich tributes to Chairman Senate Mian Raza Rabbani for opening a forum for such a crucial discussion and involving the youth. She said that country’s half of the population consists of women and discriminatory issues in the rural areas need to be addressed. “ It is critical to address issues relating to women and the youth” Dr. Anis said. She observed that tolerance is one of the biggest challenge as we have no rights to impose our believes on others.
She said that it is our responsibility , as a civil society, to tell the truth and standup for violations of human rights. “ All citizens are equal in the eyes of law” , she added.
Former Chairman Senate remarked that Senate was established through the 1973 Constitution to deal with diversity , brining balance to functioning of federal system of governance. He said that federalism stands out as a viable form of government for countries with diversity.
Senator Farhatullah Babar while shedding light on Transparency standards in democracy said that democracy will crumble if there is no transparency. Transparency , he said is a critical issue and lack of it means absence of accountability. He enumerated three basic principles which must to be taken care for a practicing democracy which includes the right to information , freedom of speech and freedom of action for the CSOs. Zahid Abdullah PM, RTI and Shahid Fayyaz CEO FAFEN also expressed their view point on transparency in democracy and its importance for democratization of the society.