With general elections less than one and a half years away, parliamentarians must expedite legislation on key human rights issues, particularly minority rights. This was the outcome of a parliamentary exchange in Pakistan organised by DRI, in collaboration with Pakistan Institute for Parliamentary Services (PIPS) on 25-26 December in Karachi, Sindh.
The exchange trip brought together 22 delegates, including parliamentarians from Pakistan’s provincial assemblies, National Assembly, Senate of Pakistan and PIPS, and was the first in a series of visits organised by DRI and PIPS.
“Democratic norms require us, the parliamentarians, to take joint actions beyond party affiliations to move the human rights agenda forward,” said Agha Siraj Durrani, the Speaker of the Sindh Assembly during the delegation’s visit to a Provincial Assembly session.
Nisar Ahmed Khuhro, Sindh Minister of Food and Parliamentary Affairs commended DRI’s role in facilitating the visit and said: “It is the beauty of democracy to transcend our differences and share best practices related to legislative process with each other through exchange trips like these.” Mehtab Akbar Rashidi of Pakistan Muslim League Functional (PML-F) said such exchange trips would be helpful in nurturing democracy in Pakistan.
The delegates also met with the opposition parties in Sindh Assembly and the Sindh Human Rights Commission and began developing a priority agenda for next year, which included more exchange trips as well as holding consultations with civil society on important human rights issues and parliamentary reforms in Pakistan.
Sharing some outcomes from the exchange trip, Mr. Manzoor Kakar, member of the Provincial Assembly of Balochistan said: “I am taking back with me the patience and acceptability for opposition extended at the Provincial Assembly of Sindh for the promotion of human rights.”
Mr. Noor Saleem Marwat, member of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly and Chairman of the Standing Committee on Minority and Religious Affairs noted during the exchange’s closing session: “Sindh Assembly’s bill to establish an independent commission for protection and promotion of minority rights is commendable. I will make efforts for a similar commission to be established in Khyber Pakhtunkhwaa province.”