Honorable Speaker/President BoG PIPS, Sardar Ayaz Sadiq inaugurated the 1st SAARC Young Parliamentarians’ Conference which was organized by PIPS in collaboration with National Assembly and IP3, European Union as a prelude to the upcoming SAARC summit to be held in November in the capital city of Pakistan. No less than 150 participants, including 60 Young Members of Parliaments from SAARC countries of Afghanistan, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri lanka participated in the conference from across the SAARC region; Honorable Members of Parliaments from both the national as well as provincial legislatures including Honorable Speaker of Sindh Assembly, Agha Siraj Khan Durrani, and Honorable Speaker of the Provincial Assembly of Balochistan, Ms. Rahila Hameed Khan Durrani, Members from civil society and media personnel were also present at the occasion.
The two-days’ conference covered a wide range of issues for deliberation among the parliamentarians and field experts. The Inaugural session began with the National Anthem followed by the recitation from the verses of Holy Quran. Convener of the Conference, Honorable MNA Malik Muhammad Uzair Khan gave welcome remarks, while SAARC Secretary General, His Excellency Arjun Bahadur Thapa, presented the opening remarks. Mr. Stefano Gatto, Acting Head of the EU Delegation, also spoke on the occasion.
Heads of Delegation from each SAARC Member State gave introductory remarks during the first Plenary Session titled “Strengthening Democratic Institutions in South Asia” which was moderated by Honorable MNA Malik Muhammad Uzair Khan. Honorable MNA/Secretary General YPF Pakistan, Ms. Shaza Fatima Khawaja, moderated the second Plenary Session which focused on “SAARC Youth Charter – Role of Young Parliamentarians to strategize for Youth Voice, Emancipation and Prosperity in South Asia.” Honorable State Minister for International Trade Sri Lanka, Mr. Sujeewa Senasinghe, co-moderated the session, while the SAARC Secretary General, His Excellency Arjun Bahadur Thapa, and Honorable MNA, Ms. Nafeesa Shah also spoke during the session.
Two simultaneous Break Out Sessions on topics as diverse as Thematic Session 1: “Best Practices of Parliamentary Oversight Tools to promote Human Security,” and Thematic Session 2: “Inter-Parliamentary Linkages to enhance cooperation on challenges and opportunities of human rights” were arranged during the latter part of day one. Honorable Senator Ms. Ayesha Raza Farooq and Honorable Member of Parliament of Sri Lanka, Mr. Ishak Rahuman, moderated Thematic Session one. Executive Director PIPS, Mr. Zafarullah Khan, and Member Legislature of Nepal, Mr. Kripa Ran Rana, moderated Thematic Session two. Both the sessions were followed by Q&A session.
Day two also began with simultaneous Break Out sessions. Thematic Session 3 titled “SAARC Sustainable Development Goals – Transition from MDGs to SDGs, Parliament’s Lead towards SDGs” was held under the leadership of Honorable MNA, Convener Parliamentary SDGs Taskforce, and Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Interior and Narcotics Control Pakistan, Ms. Marriyum Aurangzeb. Thematic Session 4 titled “Looking ahead and taking the lead – New approaches to preparation for future challenges in South Asia” was jointly moderated by Honorable Member National Assembly of Bhutan, Mr. Rinzin Dorji, and Honorable Member Legislature of Nepal, Mr. Shyam Kumar Shrestha.
The third Plenary Session deliberated on “Towards Transparent and Just Economic and Financial Order in South Asia.” The session was led by team of international experts comprising of Mr. Muneer Faisal Khan, Head Simons & Simmons, and Ms. Sara Aslam, Trainee Solicitor Simons & Simons. The experts illuminated the audience about the recent extraterritorial legislation of enacted in the USA and UK in order to curb corrupt practices of bribery and corruption. They talked at length on various corrupt financial practices and the concerning legislative measures being taken by the SAARC countries.
The Joint Islamabad Communique, duly endorsed by all the Heads of Delegations, was the hallmark of the closing ceremony of the conference which was graced by the Honorable Speaker, Sardar Ayaz Sadiq. He highly commended the efforts of the organizers of the Conference, including the teams of Pakistan Institute for Parliamentary Services and the National Assembly for excellent arrangements to host this first of its kind being held in the region, on its successful completion. The International delegates from SAARC countries expressed their deepest appreciation for the Parliament and people of Pakistan in general and the organisers in particular that reflected the enormous hospitality, vibrancy and enthusiasm of the Pakistani nation. The Conference concluded with the resolve to present the recommendations of this conference in the upcoming SAARC summit and to make this conference a regular feature in the coming years.