DUBAI — Participants from Pakistan and India have stressed the need for improving and conducting frequent free dialogues and exchanging best practices between citizens of the two countries, as well as highlighting the common issues pertaining to their local government systems, anti-corruption mechanisms and institution across borders.
These comments as well as a number of suggestions were jointly adopted during the second round of the Pakistan-India Legislators and Public Officials Dialogue on the sharing of experiences on governance and democracy held at a local hotel in Dubai on Saturday.
The workshop was organised by the Pakistan Institute of Legislative Development and Transparency (PILDAT), an independent, non-partisan and not-for-profit indigenous think tank focused on political and public policy research and legislative issues.
The event was attended by members of the Rajya Sabha/Lok Sabha, Vidhan Sabha and experts from India along with their Pakistani counterparts from the national and provincial assemblies and bureaucrats and experts from the Punjab, Sindh and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Provinces of Pakistan.
During the first session, participants took part in highlighting their experiences in local government systems, while in the second session experts discussed anti-corruption mechanisms and institutions while addressing the problem of corruption, then released a joint statement.
The dialogue brought together senior participants including MPs, practitioners and subject-experts from two countries who shared the experiences of each country’s system in an informed and reform-oriented discourse.
Sharing good practices on two key subjects once again underscored the critical need for regular dialogues and discussions among Pakistani and Indian citizens, especially in areas that improved the lives of citizens in both countries.
Participants appreciated the efforts of PILDAT, in partnership with Lokniti-CSDS, in facilitating the exchange of good practices and asked that the exchange be broadened to include more areas of governance and democracy.
The participants also emphasised continuity of the local government system as a basic requirement in strengthening democratic structures and making them more effective.
The provision of minimum educational qualifications to contest local government elections in some Indian states was also discussed. Concern was expressed that such a provision might lead to the exclusion of a large number of women and disadvantaged sectors from the local government system and run counter to the principle of inclusion. On the other hand, it was recognised that educated representatives would be an asset to making a more efficient local government.
Besides the issues pertaining to local government systems in both countries, members also highlighted related issues like the responsibilities of political parties, the need and presence of empowering women, and other such issues.
Syed Naveed Qamar – while talking to The Gulf Today – said that both countries are facing a number of issues which have many similarities, and dialogues such as these are helping officials identify solutions and bring greater ease to the life of the common man.
To a question, he said that the first session of this series was held in Lahore and soon such other sessions will be organised to bring more expert opinions to minimis e the issues facing by citizens in both countries.
Those from Pakistan included Syed Naveed Qamar, MNA; Arbab Muhammad Asim Khan, District Nazim Peshawar; Mahtab Akbar Rashdi, MPA; Mian Mehmood ur Rashid, MPA; Engineer Qamar-ul-Islam Raja, MPA; Said Rehman, Director, Local Governance School, Peshawar; Maj. (Retd) Syed Burhan Ali, Director General-NAB, Punjab and Senator Taj Muhammad Afridi.
The Indian delegation included Mani Shankar Aiyar, MP; Aryadan Shoukath, Ex-Panchayat President and Former Municipal Chairman, Nilambur, Kerala; Ashutosh, Spokesperson AAP; Bharat Bhushan, Editor, Catch News; Bhupinder Singh Hooda, MLA, INC and former Chief Minister Haryana; Dr. Sharan Prakash Patil, MLA, Karnataka; Mahendra Jeet Singh Malviya, MLA, INC, former Cabinet Minister; Dr Sukhbilas Barma, MLA; V.D. Satheesan, MLA, INC, Member, Kerala Legislative Assembly; Dr Nupur Tiwary, faculty member, Indian Institute of Public Administration New Delhi, India and Nandana Reddy, (Karnataka) Panchayati Raj Activist, Convener of the Grand Panchayat Hakkottaya Andolona.
Experts who joined the Dialogue included Shahid Hamid, Senior Advocate Supreme Court of Pakistan, Former Governor of Punjab and former Federal Minister; Prof George Mathew, Chairman, Institute of Social Sciences, New Delhi, India and Prof Jagdeep Chhokar, founder and trustee, Association for Democratic Reforms New Delhi, India, former Professor and Dean, Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad, India.–c. Gulf Today