Members of Pakistan’s national and provincial assemblies agreed to work together to develop a national agenda on women’s rights at an inter-parliamentary exchange organised by DRI and the Pakistan Institute for Parliamentary Services (PIPS) in Quetta, Balochistan Province, on 23 and 24 February 2017. The exchange gives elected representatives the opportunity to learn about legislative developments in other provinces and provide feedback.
Meraj Humayon, Chair of the Women’s Parliamentary Caucus in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, highlighted the need for stronger coordination between women’s caucuses at the provincial and national levels to support women lawmakers and bring women’s rights to the fore – “Such forums need to be held more frequently and assemblies should take the lead in this regard”.
Assembly members also flagged other democratic and human rights reforms to be taken up before the 2018 general elections, including enhancing citizens’ engagement, strengthening human rights institutions, and improving parliamentary scrutiny by increasing the powers of standing committees and introducing mandatory assembly session hours for the Prime Minster and Chief Minister.
The participants agreed that future exchanges should be fully resourced by national and provincial assemblies and the Senate and coordinated by PIPS. Ms Raheela Hameed Khan Durrani, Honourable Speaker Provincial Assembly and current Acting Governor of Balochistan said, “The exchange brings together parliamentarians from all provinces and almost all parliamentary political parties. Such forums are extremely important for strengthening democracy and building provincial harmony.”
The delegation included Mahesh Milani (PPP, MPA Sindh Assembly), Nusrat Sehar Abbasi (PML-F, MPA Sindh Assembly), Qamar Abbas Rizvi (MQM, MPA Sindh Assembly), Mr. Iftikhar Hussain Pirzada (Deputy Secretary Sindh Assembly), Amina Sardar (PMLN, MPA KP Assembly), Meraj Humayon (Qaumi Watan Party, MPA KP Assembly), Zareen Zia (PTI MPA KP Assembly) Attaullah Khan, Special Secretary KP Assembly, Sardar Shahab (PPP MPA Punjab Assembly), Farzana Nazir (PMLN MPA Punjab Assembly), Ms Shameela (PMLN- MPA Punjab Assembly), Tariq Mehmood Administrator Automation, Punjab Assembly, Nafeesa Innayatullah Khattak (PTI MNA), Ms. Ayesha Syed (JI, MNA), Zafar Ullah Khan, Executive Director PIPS and Mir Shai Mazar Balouch PIPS.