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European Union launch cooperation programme in support of Pakistan’s Parliament

Islamabad, November 07, 2012 (PPI-OT): The European Union (EU) today launched its first cooperation programme “Improving Parliamentary Performance” in support of Pakistan’s Federal Parliament. The objective of the €4.75 million programme is to assist the National Assembly and the Senate of Pakistan in the discharge of their three core parliamentary functions: legislation, oversight and representation.

“Improving Parliamentary performance” (IP3) emphasises on the work and performance of parliamentary committees – the “engines” of any Parliament. It will also facilitate improved links between Pakistan’s Parliament and the European Parliament.

The programme is the first building block in a wider structural partnership with Pakistan’s democratic institutions, including also the Provincial and Legislative Assemblies, who will benefit from a similar program in the coming years.

The Acting President of Pakistan, Syed Nayyer Hussain Bokhari was the Chief Guest at the launching ceremony, hosted by the Pakistan Institute for Parliamentary Services (PIPS).

EU Ambassador to Pakistan, Mr Lars-Gunnar Wigemark underlined that “the EU’s support to Pakistan’s Parliament is a concrete example of the EU’s resolve to be a constructive and sincere partner of Pakistan by strengthening essential democratic institutions such as the Parliament. The parliament is the bedrock of democracy in Pakistan and deserves our full support”, he said.

The EU and Pakistan recently agreed to upgrade their relations to the level of Strategic Partners and the EU Ambassador noted that “our joint Five Year Engagement Plan refers to the determination of EU and Pakistan to strengthen our parliamentary cooperation”.

Reflecting on the 2012 award of Nobel Peace Price to the European Union, Ambassador Wigemark stressed that “the European Union’s experience reflects how a well functioning parliamentary democracy is essential for peace and stability both domestically and at a regional level. By working together as fully fledged parliamentary democracies, the EU Member States have been able to overcome their historical animosities and assist one another in good and bad times. ”

The Executive director of PIPS, Mr Khan Ahmed Goraya noted “We are aware that the European Union has designed the project after a careful and comprehensive assessment process completed with close cooperation and support of the Parliament.

The key priority areas were determined for the project in consultation with Senate of Pakistan, National Assembly and the Pakistan Institute for Parliamentary Services and the project envisages supporting the parliamentary committees at the Parliament in cooperation with the Institute, which would definitely enhance their effectiveness and would enable them to carry out unbiased accountability and oversight of the executive. The project aims at promoting transparency and access to the Parliament, which in itself is one of the key ingredients of a society ensuring merit, competence and good governance.

It is noteworthy that nearly all planned interventions of this incumbent project relate to the mandated functions of the Pakistan Institute for Parliamentary Services as envisioned by the Parliament in its Act passed in 2008. In this context, the Institute naturally serves as not only the implementing partner of the project but a catalyst for strengthening the skills and capacities of peoples’ representatives for the mutual good and improvement of society as aspired by the people.

We believe that such initiatives must be aimed at delivering tangible results in close consultation with the parliamentary leadership and the Institute is happy to offer complete cooperation to the European Union and the project team along with the Senate and National Assembly leadership to work together and achieve the most appropriate and tangible interventions to consolidate best parliamentary traditions in Pakistan.”

The EU-Pakistan cooperation programme ‘Improving Parliamentary performance’ (IP3) will tap into the potential of Pakistan’s many young graduates by providing a cadre of junior experts to Parliamentary Committees, Secretariats and PIPS. The €4.75 million programme will be carried out until end of 2014 by the British Council, leading a consortium of local and international partners.

The IP 3 programme has the following four priorities:

1) Supporting Members of the National Assembly, Senate, Parliamentary Committees, Secretariats and PIPS in their work by providing expertise and capacity building for legislative, thematic and legislative research, and parliamentary oversight.

2) Making the work of Parliament more transparent and accessible to the citizens through support to comprehensive public outreach strategy of PIPS, helping the Parliament to build more effective relationship with the media, and engaging the public and civil society to work more closely with the Parliament;

3) Increasing Parliament’s capacity to promote international human rights standards and to work on electoral legal frameworks through specialised advice on mainstreaming human rights in legislative business in compliance with Pakistan’s international commitments. The programme will also support the ongoing electoral reform process.

4) Strengthening the links between Pakistan Parliament and the European Parliament to encourage better understanding of issues of mutual interest, sharing of best practices and promoting exchanges between parliamentarians and staff working in parliaments.

For more information, contact:
Ms Ayesha Babar
Press and PR Officer
Delegation of the European Union to Pakistan
Phone: +92-51-227 182 8
Fax: 92-51- 282 260 4
Email: Ayesha.Babar@eeas.europa.eu

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