Chaudhry Ahsan Premee
Associated Press Service
ISLAMABAD:MARCH 14,2016-Chairman Senate Mian Raza Rabbani has said that Parliament and democracy owe a great debt to women of Pakistan as they struggled against the odds of dictatorships and gave sacrifices for strengthening the foundations of democratic culture in the country. He expressed these views as a Chief Guest at a seminar “A Tribute to Women Parliamentarians” organized by Free and Fair Election Network (FAFEN) and Trust for Democratic Education and Accountability (TDEA) at a local hotel today.
Our history, Raza Rabbani said, is replete with women of substance, “From Mohtarma Fatima Jinnah to Shaheed Benazir Bhutto, women played a leading role for upholding the democratic traditions in the country”. He said that women parliamentarians in provincial legislatures and in the parliament are playing an active role and it is because of their struggle that democracy, democratic institutions and parliament is functional.
Chairman Senate emphasized the need for continuity of the democratic system, adding that if continuity prevails, the system will get more refined and foundations of the democratic system will be strengthened.
He acknowledged the role of civil society in creating awareness about the issues being faced by the society. “Civil Society in the past comprising of student unions, trade unions and lawyers movements remained on the forefront against dictatorships”, Chairman Senate stated. He, however, termed it unfortunate that student unions were banned by dictatorial regimes which created a vacuum and provided an opportunity to the extremist mindset to promote their thinking.
Raza Rabbani said that student unions were muted and democratic traditions could not solidify at the grass root level.
He pointed out that a particular mindset is not allowing the parliament to flourish and that mindset wants to keep the policy levers in their own hands. “Supremacy of the parliament needs to be accepted by all if we want the state to prosper and progress,” Chairman Senate observed.
He said that responsibility lies on the shoulders of the civil society and more importantly the people of Pakistan to protect the parliament. He, however, pointed out that people would come forward if the Parliament truly reflects the will and aspirations of the people of Pakistan and a sense of ownership is given to them. Mian Raza Rabbani said that women have more important role to play and their active contribution would bring more vibrancy in the working of the Parliament.
Earlier, Shahid Fiaz, CEO TDEA-FAFEN, in his welcome remarks, highlighted the role played by women Parliamentarians in the Senate and National Assembly. He said that Senate has taken a number of initiatives which have contributed towards openness and transparency.
Seasoned journalist M. Zia Uddin, Chairperson, TDEA highlighted the role of civil society in democratization. He said that the civil society has played a significant role for upholding the cause of democracy, human rights and have struggled against threat of extremism. The Seminar was attended by women parliamentarians, civil society representatives, journalists and people belonging to different walks of life.