The National Assembly of Pakistan and Pakistan Institute for Parliamentary Services organised a Seminar on Commonwealth Day on Monday, March 09, 2020 at PIPS Main Campus.
The theme for this year was “Delivering a Common Future: Connecting, Innovating and Transforming”. The event was attended by a jam-packed auditorium comprising more than 125 participants, including Honourable Parliamentarians, high commissioners of countries in Pakistan from Kenya, Maldives, Malaysia, Mauritius and Nigeria, representatives from donor agencies, and members of civil society, media, academia and students.
The event began with recitation of verses from Holy Quran, followed by the National Anthem of Pakistan. The Executive Director Pakistan Institute for Parliamentary Services Mr. Muhammad Anwar formally welcomed the distinguished guests. He remarked that National Assembly and PIPS have maintained the annual tradition of observing the Common wealth day every year.
He reiterated that Commonwealth nations are confronted with unprecedented challenges whose effective solution requires collective effort. Commonwealth recognizes the positive role and contributions of young people in promoting development, peace, democracy and in protecting and promoting tolerance and respect for other cultures.
The speakers stressed the need for collective efforts by the Commonwealth states to facilitate progress and maintain peace and stability. They also emphasized on ensuring respect for human rights and condemning Human Rights abuse by any state.
Ms. Salma Joverai, Deputy Director National Assembly, read the Queen’s message. Honourable Mr Shandana Gulzar Khan, Member, National Assembly of Pakistan, and the recently elected Chairperson of the Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians (CWP), emphasized that the world is rapidly changing; there are new ideas and new challenges emerging each day. She stressed the need for soul-searching that while many states are working on artificial intelligence, why many areas in Pakistan still lack basic facilities like electricity. This portrays our slow-paced progress and development. Similarly, many Commonwealth states are confronted with several common issues which require collective effort or can be resolved by learning from each other’s best practices and policy initiatives.
Honourable MNA Syed Fakhar Imam, Chairman, Parliamentary Committee on Kashmir, said that English language and Common Law unite the British and members of the Commonwealth. Unlike rest of the colonial masters the British supported scientific, industrial and ideological progress and evolution in their colonies. Since the inception of Commonwealth in 1949, the Commonwealth as an organization has remained proactive in 7 to 8 areas including Human Rights. Commonwealth has taken up issues of human rights like South African Apartheid and discrimination on the basis of colour. The current Human Rights situation in Asia, particularly the current ethnic cleansing of Muslims in India under the Hindutva inspired regime is a serious concern and needs the attention of Commonwealth. Indian government has already reduced Kashmir to the world’s largest open air prison where life of Muslim means nothing. The UN Resolutions passed in June 2018 and July 2019 are significant in understanding the gravity of the inhumane treatment the Kashmiri Muslims are facing at the hands of the Indian government. It is the responsibility of the Commonwealth as an advocate of human rights to take up this situation and remedy it.
Honorable Speaker National Assembly of Pakistan, Mr. Asad Qaiser, graced the event as the Chief Guest. he said that this day marks 71 years of the London Declaration which led to the partnership between the British and the Commonwealth states. Today we are confronted with diverse challenges of melting glaciers, mass migration, poverty, hunger and spread of epidemics like Corona virus. Amidst battling these issues, the role of Parliaments and Commonwealth is indispensable. Synergy of efforts is imminent to end the global common challenges of poverty, provide healthcare facilities and improve the standard of living of the citizens. He also took exception to attract attention towards Kashmir and the recent killings of Muslims and burning of mosques in India is worthy of international attention. Pakistan earnestly desires a peaceful neighbourhood where all the states work together for progress. In respect of this desire Pakistan facilitated Afghan Dialogue so the two states can work together for peace and prosperity and Pakistan holds the same desire for India as well.