Islamabad-Astana (Live)- June 8, 2023 – 11 AM-1.00 PM: The Institute for Parliamentarianism Kazakhstan and the PIPS Capacity Building & Development and the Research Teams held a round table conference on Prospects for Inter-Parliamentary Cooperation between the Parliaments of Pakistan and Kazakhstan. His Excellency Ambassador Yerzhan Kistafin Republic of Kazakhstan to the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, the experts from Institute of Parliamentarism (IP) and PIPS as well as media-men and members of academia and civil society participated in person at PIPS in Islamabad and virtually through Astana.
The Introductory Session: The round table started from the recitation of some verses from Holy Quran, by Mr. Taj Muhammad, Deputy Director (CB&D). Ms. Fakiha Mehmood, Deputy Director Research PIPS, moderated the event. She gave a brief introduction of the event and introduced the panelists of the round table. Mr. Anwar Muhammad, Executive Director PIPS, welcomed the guests. He also explained the mandate and working of the Pakistan Institute for Parliamentary Services (PIPS). He thanked the H.E. Yerzhan Kistafin for signing the MoU between PIPS and IP Kazakhstan in 2022. Ms. Zhanar Tulindinova, Executive Director Institute for Parliamentarianism, (IPK) Kazakhstan, gave welcoming remarks. She introduced the working of Institute of Parliamentarism (IPK) to the participants. H.E. Yerzhan Kistafin expressed his gratitude to PIPS for taking the initiative of round table dialogue on very important topic. He mentioned the signing of MoU between PIPS and IP for developing the interaction for knowledge of different parliamentary events. He mentioned that parliaments should be made influential by making government accountable before parliament as well as civil society. He gave the good news to the participants that direct flights are going to operate from Kazakhstan to Karachi Pakistan.
Session One: Role of Parliament in the Process of Political and Constitutional Reforms in Kazakhstan: Mr. Yersultan Zhanseitov, Chief expert at the Institute of World Economy and Politics, talked about the three tiers of events in Kazakhstan in 2022; principal reforms, constitutional reforms, and presidential reforms. He also mentioned it was historic that direct public voted in over 60% in favour of Constitutional Amendments aimed at public well being through strengthening of Parliament and institutions; the survey of June 2022 that 77% of respondents believed that the amendments in constitution did bring reforms in the Kazakhstan.
Session Two: The Role of Media Services in the Implementation of the Principles of Transparency of Electoral Process: Mr. Shams Abbasi, Journalist for Associated Press Pakistan, talked about the importance of the Central Asia, especially Kazakhstan as there is 99% literacy rate and its 9th biggest country land wise. He related Pakistan situation with Kazakhstan in politics as well as literature. He told that Kazakhs always wanted just society, which they got after the elections in 2022, as the elections were declared free and fair by different international organizations and accurate according to international election standards. The turn-out of the elections 2022 in Kazakhstan was 54% which is commendable. Many international official as well unofficial statements were shared by him, explaining the elections and constitutional reforms of Kazakhstan as the commendable steps. The impact of the Kazakhstan elections was positive internally as well externally, opening new ways for foreign policy and economy. Mr. Tahzeen Akhtar, Journalist and Editor in Pakistan in the World, said that it is important that media should be aware of the neighboring countries. Moreover, he added that the media and think tanks should be clear that there countries are not landlocked as these countries have more gateway than Pakistan due to their central location. He mentioned that language barrier is a big challenge in order to establish friendly relations with Kazakhstan. He suggested that there should be courses of Urdu language in the Kazakh Universities as well as Kazakh language courses in Pakistani Universities in order to minimize the language gap. He said that Kazakhstan had been working to get successful by combating corruption, limiting presidential powers, introducing inclusive policies etc. He also mentioned that Kazakhstan is quite peaceful country as it has more than 100 communities still there are no communal riots. He wished best for Kazakhstan at the end.
Session Three: Initiatives of Kazakh President on the Transformation of Political System of the Country: Mr. Akhmetzharov Slyamzhar, head of electoral studies department at Kazakhstan Institute for Strategic Studies, related the political transformation of Kazakhstan with Pakistan political situation. He briefly explained the political and constitutional reforms in Kazakhstan. He mentioned that Kazakhstan is working currently on three most important goals; political, economic and social in order to get successful. He also mentioned that large scale political reforms introduced by the current president have positive implication with respect to the situation of Kazakhstan. He told the participants that next step of the current president in towards the economic reforms. He suggested that Kazakhstan should work on three important fields as per now; political will, necessary reforms and economic progression.
Session Four: Inter-Parliamentary Dialogue and Prospects for Interaction between the Legislative Bodies of the Republic of Kazakhstan and Islamic Republic of Pakistan: Ms. Zhanar Tulindinova, Executive Director IPK, said that Pakistan was one of the first four countries which recognized Kazakhstan in 1991. Since 1992, Kazakhstan and Pakistan are developing friendly relations between each other. In 2019, Pakistan officials visited Kazakhstan in a four day event where talks on bilateral relations were held. She mainly mentioned the events and steps taken to build friendly relations between Kazakhstan and Pakistan. She also mentioned that PIPS and IPK have provided a forum to build good relations and understanding of parliamentary proceedings of both the countries.
In his key note speech Mr. Muhammad Rashid Mafzool Zaka, Director General (Research & Library) PIPS, drew similarities between Kazakhstan and Pakistan at two levels; ideologically poet philosophers of the two countries Ibrahim Abbey with Allama Iqbal both reiterated their thought on emphasizing the well-being of humanity and especially the poor as the top priority for democratic elected governments; as well as the New Kazakhstan with democratic Pakistan, both of whom are rewriting the role of their democracy to strengthen institutions so that representation and accountability takes place simultaneously for better good governance. He quoted the report of Global Democracy Index that democracy was spreading in the 20th century but in the last decade, there are some countries including Hungary, India, Brazil and Afghanistan, where democracies are not following the main aim of democracy, which is that one ethnic majority is taking much of the place of country, suppressing the rights of other ethnic minorities. Secondly, elections in these states are not free and fair. He suggested that 3 tiers can work for parliamentary actions for working together;
Vote of Thanks and Closing Session:
Mr Zaka presented the vote of thanks to H.E. Yerzhan Kistafin, Kazakh Ambassador to Pakistan for his dynamic role in bringing the two nations together; In addition he eulogized PIPS CPD wing, Syued Wiqar Shah DG, Mr Taj Muhammad DD (CBD) and Mr Naeem Shaukat AD (CBD) for working closely with Research wing to hold the event. He also praised IT wing for support in the hybrid mode of dialogue from Astana, Kazakhstan and Islamabad befittingly.
Mr. Muhammad Anwar thanked all the participants of the round table conference. He said that it was very informative roundtable dialogue and this type of talks should be done frequently. Moreover, he said that there should be enhancement of capabilities and capacities of the secretariats. He said that Pakistan is looking for more cooperation, especially related to working of the legislatures. ED PIPS appreciated Mr. Taj Muhammad DD CBD and Ms. Fakiha Mahmood DD (Research) for smooth proceedings. Ms. Zhanar Tulindinova, Executive Director, IPK also gave the closing remarked by thanking the participants.
H.E. Yerzhan Kistafin concluded the round table by giving some suggestions in order to build friendly relations between Kazakhstan and Pakistan. He said that sports diplomacy should be encouraged in order to fill the gap. He shared that Alpine Mountaineering Club in Pakistan and Kazakhstan Mountaineers have signed an MoU for joint summits of the Himalayas in Pakistan. Moreover, direct communication lines should be established between these two countries. Cultural exchanges would be a positive step towards the friendly relations between Kazakhstan and Pakistan. He thanked the panelists as well as the PIPS teams CBD and Research as well as IPK for arranging the round table dialogue on such important topic. Ms Ayesha Tariq Khan AD (Research) was the rapporteur of the event minuting these proceedings.