Islamabad: Chairman Senate Syed Nayyer Hussain Bukhari, while addressing the 126th Inter-Parliamentary Union’s Assembly in Uganda, has said that the democratic government as well as parliament of Pakistan, established in 2008 after a long authoritarian rule, strongly believes in the power vested in the people. He further said that all political parties represented in the Parliament of Pakistan today are committed to continue with the democratic dispensation and not let creation of any gap between the peoples and the parliament. “Our great leader Shaheed Mohtarama Benazir Bhutto, who lost her life in this process, was a bridge with the people and for the people”, Syed Nayyer Hussain Bukhari added.
They Chairman Senate observed that the President and the Prime Minister of Pakistan are committed to work relentlessly for the welfare of the people of Pakistan.
He said that the topic of the 126th Assembly “Parliament and People: Bridging the Gap” is very apt and reflective of IPU’s core functions as well as that of representative parliamentary democracy. The Chairman Senate is leading Pakistan’s Parliamentary delegation to Uganda.
We, the parliamentarians, as representatives of the people, cannot afford to function in a vacuum. We can serve as catalysts for change directly through the peoples’ input in the policymaking process, and indirectly by shaping public opinion and setting the agenda for public debate. The mechanism of inter-parliamentary cooperation gives us an opportunity to perform both these tasks effectively, by allowing us to look beyond geographical and intellectual borders to find new solutions to old problems.
He also shared with the participants the landmark achievements of the current democratic government as part of its efforts to bridge the gap between the parliament and the peoples. Chairman Senate said that it is first time in the history of Pakistan that the constitutionally elected President has addressed the Parliament five times consecutively as part of his Constitutional obligation. In near future, the democratic Government will be presenting its 5th annual budget. The parliament has done legislation in order to address the gender balance in the government policies, bring women in the mainstream and criminalize gender violence discrimination. The Public Accounts Committee of the National Assembly, which is an instrument of parliamentary oversight on the government spending, has been headed by the Leader of the Opposition. This has never happened in the past. I must admit here that the opposition in the Parliament has played its due role very effectively to promote and strengthen democracy in Pakistan.
Regarding terrorism, the Chairman Senate observed that Pakistan, as the foremost victim of terrorism, has suffered a lot. The Government is, however, committed to fight this menace through its 3 Ds policy in order to uplift the people and make Pakistan a moderate developing country.
The cardinal principle that power vests with people and is derived from them lies at the very core of modern Democracies the world over. The system of governance must, therefore, reflect the sovereign will of the people and be accountable to them.
He suggested that better engagement with the public can have an immensely positive impact on working of a parliament. Mr. Bukhari pointed out that the representative democracies require today’s parliaments to make strenuous efforts to project and advocate their activities and to attract the interest and attention of the people. The public – in any parliamentary democracy – have a right to expect a parliament which communicates its work promptly, clearly and usefully, but also one that reaches out to all citizens and invites participation and interaction.
Chairman Senate said that public scrutiny of the legislature, to a large degree, relies on the ability of the media and civil society groups to closely watch legislative activities. It is crucial that, in addition to public voting and open Committees, the building that houses the legislature be open to all interested citizens, including the media and civil society groups.
The Chairman Senate informed the participants that the parliament in Pakistan is also making hectic efforts to enhance connectivity with the people. Legally, there is no restriction on Citizens to visit the premises of the parliament and witness House proceedings. He said that the parliament is also working on launching its own channel to enhance its interaction outreach to the people of Pakistan.
The Chairman Senate also informed the participants about the question hour, Rules of the Senate and National Assembly allow public access to Committee meetings and the committee system in the parliament of Pakistan.
Syed Nayyer Hussain Bukhari said that through well established procedural devices, Members of Senate have raised issues of public importance, focused attention on matters affecting policies of the Government and ventilated public grievances. “Pakistan Parliament has constantly endeavoured to set high standards of public discourse by becoming open and responsive to the hopes and aspirations of people at large’, the Chairman Senate further observed. He said that the members of Parliament also focus on socio-economic and development issues that impact ordinary people.
The Chairman Senate said that the conference would prove highly conducive to bridge the gap between parliament and the people. Inter-parliamentary forums such as IPU provide an important and valuable mechanism to forge international cooperation among governments as well as parliaments. They give an opportunity to exchange ideas and take back lessons for our collective benefit.
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