National Assembly of Pakistan under the leadership of Honourable Speaker National Assembly Asad Qaiser organized and hosted the 5th Commonwealth Parliamentary Association Asia Regional Conference, 2019 currently taking place in Islamabad from July 29 – August 2, 2019. Primarily, the aim of conference was to enhance parliamentary linkages across commonwealth region to delve into key challenges of Asia Region including poverty, discrimination against women participation in politics, opportunities of youth engagement in civic life and joint way forward to attain the sustainable development goals.
Keeping in sight the role of youth in nation building and inclusive democracy, an absorbing Roundtable was organized to engage young parliamentarians along with youth activists to initiate a dialogue highlighting the importance of youth platforms for parliament, and youth as medium of peace, tolerance and prosperity in addition to role of young MPs in enhancing youth participation in Parliamentary business. In the leadership of Hon Speaker, as the key exclusive research and training seat of learning for the Parliament of Pakistan, the two session Roundtable was organized by the Pakistan Institute for Parliamentary Services and Young Parliamentary Forum in which over 150 participants. The Roundtable was divided over four thematic areas discussing; youth as building blocks of inclusive democracy, youth platforms as stepping stone to parliament, strategies of young MPs to advance peace tolerance and prosperity and role of young MPs in enhancing youth participation in parliamentary business.
While sharing his welcome remarks, Secretary General, Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) Akbar Khan stressed upon the need of including youth in decision making and democratic process highlighting Pakistan’s potential in youth which is around 64% of total population. Hon Speaker National Assembly of Pakistan Asad Qaiser graced the conclusion of Roundtable session two with his presence in which he welcomed the foreign delegates and underscored the importance of youth dialogue and their inclusivity for prosperous future of Parliament and the country. The keynote speaker of the morning session was Federal Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Muhammad Azam Khan Swati who said that there is an utmost need to involve youth in political as well as parliamentary process. The four hour Roundtable from 9 Am to 1.30 PM was chaired and moderated by Akbar Khan, Secretary General CPA and Mr Muhammad Rashid Mafzool Zaka, Executive Director PIPS was the Master of the Ceremony. The first round of discussion was addressed by young parliamentarians including Deputy Speaker Punjab Assembly Dost Muhammad Mazari, Deputy Speaker Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly Mehmood Jan, MNA Shaza Fatima Khwaja, Member Parliament from Srilanka Heshan Withanage and CPA youth leaders who thoroughly shed light on the prevailing issues regarding inclusion of youth in democratic process and importance of youth platforms for democracy and progressive parliament. The debates were followed by a thorough question and answer session between participants and panelists. At the conclusion of youth roundtable, souvenirs were presented to panelists by the Secretary General CPA Akbar Khan. Speaker National Assembly of Pakistan Asad Qaiser presented the PIPS publication on Best Speeches of First Constituent Assembly of Pakistan 1947-58 published by the Pakistan Institute for Parliamentary Services as souvenir to moderator of the Roundtable. Akbar Khan, Secretary General CPA. Hon Speaker thanked all foreign delegates for their holistic and comprehensive participation.
The second session of the Youth Roundtable stressed upon the role of young MPs in enhancing youth participation in parliamentary business and strategies of young MPs to advance peace, tolerance and prosperity. The session was addressed by members of Young Parliamentary Forum including Deputy Speaker Balochistan Assembly Sardar Babar, MNA Farrukh Habib, Uzma Riaz, Naz Baloch, MPA Sumaira Shams, Member House of Lords, Lord Purvis of Tweed and youth leaders who unanimously shared a view that it is imperative to enlighten and engage youth in political and parliamentary processes of the country; not only make decisions for them but make decisions with them. Speakers further stressed that for ensuring a peaceful democratic society, inclusion of youth is of pivotal importance. They said that youth of a country becomes a direct stakeholder of hatred in society and it is the youth who can counter the messages of hate and violence with the message of peace and prosperity.
Mr Akbar Khan termed the Youth Round Table a resounding success that saw commendable deliberation for the youthful population of the South Asia region as well as the world. Mr Khan eulogized the vision and support of the Hon Speaker National Assembly and the immculate hospitality by the National Assembly Secretariat. He also shared that it’s the first instance CPA has organized such Roundtable focused on role of youth as building blocks of parliamentary democracy and as agents of capitalizing peace and dialogues. Executive Director PIPS Mr Muhammad Rashid Mafzool Zaka concluded session with Vote of thanks to the Hon Speaker Asad Qaiser, Members of Participating countries UK, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Uganda, Cameron, Malaysia and provincial as well as legislative assemblies of Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Punjab and Sindh; officers of National Parliament, youth activists and young university researchers. He encouraged youth and young leaders to emulate the leadership of Father of Nation Quaid e Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah whose life revolved around “Responsibility and Hardwork,” and the concept of WE AGREE TO DISAGREE as the essence of parliamentary democracy. The Round Table concluded with slogan of Youth Possible and Pakistan Zindabad and a memorable group picture.