Pakistan Institute for Parliamentary Services in collaboration with National Assembly of Pakistan organized a Seminar on Commonwealth Day on Monday, March 11, 2019 at its main Campus in Islamabad.
The event was attended by around 50 participants including faculty and students from Riphah Institute of Public Policy, Air University, Bahria University Islamabad Campus, and media representatives. Members of diplomatic community who attended the seminar included the High Commissioner of Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, His Excellency Mr. Noordeen Mohamed Shaheid, and First Secretary in the High Commission for India, Mr. Ashish Sharma.
Ms. Fakiha Mahmood, Research Officer, moderated the seminar which began with the National Anthem of Pakistan, followed by the recitation of verses from Holy Quran. Welcoming the respected guests Executive Director PIPS Mr. Zafarullah Khan noted the significance of Commonwealth as an association of countries which represents a broad spectrum of cultures and societies. Despite of huge diversity, shared history binds all the countries together. This common thread can serve to find common grounds to work together.
Hon. Ms. Andleeb Abbas highlighted the values cherished by commonwealth nations like equality, justice and democracy. In this regard she emphasized the need to strengthen democracy which has been accepted as a system of governance all over the world. She said that diversity is the hallmark of the commonwealth countries. It plays important role in generating new ideas for development. She also shared some notable anecdotes from parliamentary history of United Kingdom in order to highlight the importance of time management. She was of the view that developing countries like Pakistan need to learn from the countries where the Ministers have set the example to resign from their posts for being ten minutes late.
Ms. Salma Joveria, Deputy Director (IR) National Assembly of Pakistan read the Message on Commonwealth Day by Mr. Asad Qaisar, Honorable Speaker of the National Assembly of Pakistan. Mr. Taha Muhammad Khan, Student School of Law Bahria University Islamabad Campus, read the Message from Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, Head of the Commonwealth and Patron of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association.
Honorable Dr. Fehmida Mirza, Federal Minister for Inter-Provincial Coordination/Member Executive Committee CPA, graced the occasion as Chief Guest of ceremony. Dr. Mirza began by highlighting the role of PIPS in strengthening democracy in Pakistan. She talked about the role and significance the Commonwealth which is an association of 53 countries inhabited by 2.4 billion people across various continents. She said that the ultimate objective is to work together to find solutions for problems shared among the member countries. Commonwealth countries aspire to achieve an interconnected world that works in unison to tackle various challenges of human security such as poverty, malnutrition, hunger and disease. She took exception to refer to the recent provocations from Indian side which led to a near war situation. She said that Pakistani leadership demonstrated utmost restraint. Despite of having capacity and capability the leadership in Pakistan choose the path to peace and development. She also condemned the human rights violations perpetrated by Indian occupied forces in the Kashmir valley. As a way forward she urged the international community, especially the commonwealth countries to play their role in resolving the Kashmir dispute in order to clear the way for peace and development in the entire region.
The concluding ceremony involved the presentation of set of PIPS publications. Executive Director PIPS, Mr. Zafarullah Khan presented the set of PIPS publications to the Guest of Honor Honorable Dr. Fehmida Mirza, Ms. Andleeb Abbas, as well as representatives from participating institution including Riphah Institute of Public Policy, Bahria University and Air University. The event ended with the vote of thanks and a group photo.