Civil Society Called for New Charter of Democracy

Islamabad: While advocating for an inclusive and participatory development process in Pakistan, Pakistan Development Alliance (PDA), Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ), and the National Press Club (NPC), organized a National Dialogue on New Charter of Democracy in Islamabad.
In this dialogue, the civil society called upon the political parties to initiate a dialogue and meaningful deliberations for the 2nd generation Charter of Democracy. They urged that this process should be inclusive and participatory and shall involve all relevant stakeholders.

The event was presided by President National Party Balochistan Dr. Abdul Malik Baloch. Other speakers and senior leaders of different political parties included renowned politician Senator Farhatullah Babar, Dr. Pervez Tahir, Senator Saifullah Abro, President PFUJ Mr. Afzal Butt, General Secretary PFUJ Nasir Zaidi, President NPC Anwar Raza, National Convenor of Pakistan Development Alliance Zia ur Rehman, Constitutional Expert Zafarullah Khan, Pakistan Bar Council representative Mr. Shah Khawar, Civil Society leaders Samina Nazeer, Inshtiaq Gillani and others.

The Economist’s annual Democracy Index-2022 ranked Pakistan at 104 out of the 167 countries and put Pakistan in the category of ‘hybrid regime’ gradually inching towards the category of ‘authoritarianism’. It is in this context that civil society in Pakistan under the aegis of Pakistan Development Alliance has started conversations on the need and urgency of the second generation of Charter of Democracy. Endorsing the efficacy of the CoD-the civil society urge all major political parties to join hands and heads to author a new Charter of Democracy before Election-2023.

Dr. Abdul Malik Baloch, President National Party Balochistan said Political parties are considered as the nurseries of democracy. Their vibrancy and inclusiveness enrich nations’ democratic experiences. We call upon the political parties to consider creation of ‘National Commission for Democracy’ as envisaged in the CoD-2006 to support civic education, study circles and training of future leaders and cadre through the political parties”
He also stressed that all political parties shall in their manifestos and policy documents ensure that all citizens irrespective of their gender, class, economic background and creed are valued and equally involved in the affairs of the party.

Mr. Zia ur Rehman, National Convener Pakistan Development Alliance said “we the members of civil society would like to emphasize that only a futuristic democratic compact among all major political parties can offer us-a better future. Therefore, the new Charter of Democracy must agree on stable and predictable rules of the game to make democratic culture and values work for 250 million Pakistanis. He emphasised that all political parties should adopt proposed COD2.0 as their party manifesto.

Constitutional Expert ZafarUllah Khan emphasised the importance of centrality of Parliament and demanded that constitutional supremacy should be accepted by all. Secretary General Pakistan People’s Party Mr. FarhatUllah Babar said that article 32-36 of the COD 2006 were not given priority in the past years. The political parties should focus on leftover clauses of COD 2006 in new COD.

Participants also highlighted that democracy is a bird with two wings-political and economic. For a balanced and smooth way forward, the 2nd generation of Charter of Democracy along with tweaking the political wing must dedicate its prime focus to bring the nation out of the economic quagmire.

Participants also stressed on the effective role and centrality of parliamentary institutions to offer a better legal framework, oversight mechanisms, taxation and pro-people resources appropriation as well as increased role of Parliamentary Committee for Judicial appointments. Similarly all parties should take concrete measures to implement women protection laws, free and compulsory education, universal health coverage, food security.
PFUJ President Mr. Afzal Butt said For better functions of state it is important to work towards establishment of self-governing independent accountability commission and free and independent media.

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