ISLAMABAD:(APS)March 17, 2017- Parliamentarians from the four provincial assemblies, National Assembly and the Senate have agreed to work together for developing a national agenda for protection of women and strengthening parliamentary institutions of the country. Members of 20 delegates from the provincial assemblies of Pakistan met with the Chairman Senate, Speaker National Assembly and the Leader of opposition during a two day Inter-parliamentary Exchange Visit jointly organised by Democracy Reporting International (DRI) and Pakistan Institute of Parliamentary Services (PIPS). The delegation agreed to form a coordination committee of Women Caucuses from all the provinces. The Women Caucus of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa agreed to take lead in holding the first coordination meeting of the caucuses.
Chairman Senate during the meeting shared different initiatives of the Senate for strengthening democracy. “Parliament is supreme and this supremacy can be sustained only if we promote transparency, among ourselves, respect the core responsibility of the parliament to represent people and introduce the laws in the best interest of people who elected us” said the Honourable Chairman while talking to the delegation.
The delegation also met with the Speaker of National Assembly Mr. Ayaz Sadiq and the Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Mr. Khurshid Shah and demanded to take the lead in continuing such interactions. “Such interactions are important and much needed to improve parliamentary business and bringing democratic reforms, I will talk to all speakers of the provincial assemblies to initiate such exchanges and I have already asked Punjab to invite representatives from all provinces in the upcoming conference of Commonwealth Asia region being held in Lahore”, responded the Honourable Speaker to this request.
The reforms agreed by the visiting delegates include: increasing accountability of the government to the elected houses through increasing powers of the standing committees, empowering committee chairperson to call meetings and introducing mandatory zero hours for the Prime Minster and Chief Minister, enhancing citizen’s engagement elected houses, strengthening the roles of human rights institutions, coordination with relevant assemblies and connection of human rights related committees, standing committees should be functional within three months. Acknowledging the significance of such exchange forums the delegation insisted upon all provincial assemblies, National Assembly and Senate to continue such programmes by the assemblies themselves through allocation of enough resources in their annual budgets and give the Pakistan Institutes of Parliamentary Services lead role in this regard.
Senator Farhatullah Baber highlighted the role of women parliamentarians in the assembly business. “You the women parliamentarians need to take steps to break glass ceiling and you will see that there will be allies standing around you.”
Speaking on the occasion, Mr. Abdul Malik Baloch; Former Chief Minister Balochistan said that the provincial assemblies have enough resources to take the lead in organising such interactions and they need to do it as their priority. Zafarullah Khan, Executive Director PIPS acknowledged that the visits were significant for consolidation of democracy in the country and agreed to continue such exchanges from PIPS’ platforms.
Hassan Nasir Mirbahar, Country Representative of DRI in Pakistan, said that “DRI stands to facilitate parliamentary institutions of Pakistan. We will continue to do so whenever these institutions request our support”.
The delegation included Mahesh Milani (PPP, MPA Sindh Assembly), Nusrat Sehar Abbasi (PML-F, MPA Sindh Assembly) , Qamar Abbas Rizvi (MQM, MPA Sindh Assembly), Mr. Umer Farooq (Secretary Sindh Assembly), Amina Sardar (PMLN, MPA KP Assembly), Sobia Khan (PML (N) MPA KP Assembly), Jafer Shah (MPA KP Assembly- ANP), Ziaullah Bagash (PTI-MPA KP Assembly) Attaullah Khan, Special Secretary KP Assembly, Kanwal Nouman (PML (N) MPA Punjab Assembly), Raja Muhammad Ali (PML (N) MPA Punjab Assembly), Ramesh Singh (PML(N)- MPA Punjab Assembly), Tariq Mehmood, (Director Automation Punjab Assembly, Nafeesa Innayatullah Khattak (PTI MNA), Ms. Farhana Qamar(PMLN, MNA), Ms. Rumina Khurshi Alam (PMLN-MNA) and Senator Farhatullah Baber