Strengthen Parliament Engagement with Citizens
Parliamentarians from all over Pakistan agreed that standing committees in the four provincial assemblies should be strengthened to allow better engagement with citizens. This requires the review of the Assembly’s rules of procedure to strengthen committees’ powers. 22 parliamentarians belonging to various political parties from provincial assemblies of Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Punjab and Sindh joined the two-day workshop on “Parliamentary Procedures and Citizens’ Engagement” organized by DRI in Islamabad/ Pakistan on 2-3 March 2016.
Facilitators and guest speakers highlighted national and international good practices on powers of standing committees, the role of opposition parties and mechanisms of engaging citizens such as public hearings, town hall meetings, field visits and social media forums. After the devolution of powers to the provinces, the provincial assemblies have an increased mandate to legislate and hold provincial governments accountable. But these functions can only be performed if the assemblies empower opposition and standing committees, the parliamentarians agreed.
Guest speakers at the workshop included Mr. Riaz Fatyana former Member of the National Assembly of Pakistan & Chairman of the Parliamentarians Commission for Human Rights (PCHR), Mr. Zafarullah Khan, Executive Director of Centre for Civic Education, Mr. Shafique Chaudhry, Chief Coordinator of the PCHR, and Mr. Muhammad Aslam Waseem from the Pakistan Institute for Parliamentary Services (PIPS).
The workshop was organized by DRI in the context of the DFID funded programme “Strengthening Parliament’s Role in the Promotion of Human Rights in Pakistan: Democratic Stability Through Responsive Elected Institution” implemented by DRI since May 2015.