The 6th meeting of the Parliamentary Consultative Group on Women’s Issues-PCGWI was held on August 16, 2006 at the Hotel Best Western, Islamabad. Welcoming the participants, Mr. Ahmed Bilal Mehboob, explained that in the 5th meeting, the PCGWI membership identified three themes for PCGWI to support in the year ahead. These included Free and Fair General Elections, Issues of Balochistan Province and the Millennium Development Goals. He went on to explain that as the voting on these was very close it was decided to have presentations on these three areas in the 6th meeting so that members can develop a clearer understanding on the significance of these issues as well as help them in deciding what role they can play in support of these issues. Accordingly, he said that PILDAT has arranged for briefings on these three themes. He introduced Mr. Sikandar Hayat Jamali, former Chief Secretary Balochistan and former Federal Secretary who would be making a presentation on the major Grievances of the Balochistan Province, Mr. Kanwar Muhammad Dilshad, Secretary Election Commission of Pakistan who would deliver a talk on Ensuring Free, Fair and Credible General Election and Effective Women Participation and Mr. Sajjad Akhtar, Director Centre for Research on Poverty Reduction and Income Distribution-CRPRID who would make a presentation on the Significance of the Millennium Development Goals and Progress made in Achieving MDGs in Pakistan.
Presentation on Balochistan:
Mr Jamali started his presentation by listing six areas which were a cause for concern and conflict in Balochistan and needed to be addressed. These included the issue of Royalty on Sui Gas, backwardness and under-development of Balochistan, share in the civil services, constitutional changes, tribal democracy and the course of politics in the province. Elaborating on these issues Mr. Jamali stressed that the cumulative backwardness of Balochistan needs to be addressed and Balochis needed to be pulled up, by getting them the same royalty on gas as for other provinces, getting a higher share in the divisible financial pool, building roads, providing education and having due share in services, unification of laws across the province and merging the system of levies with the police. The question and answer session drew attention to the growing polarization between Punjab and Balochistan which may increase and be dangerous for the Federation. Speakers also highlighted that other provinces in the country needed to understand what Balochistan is all about and how it works and undertake dialogues in order to come to an understanding and resolution of conflicting issues facing the province.
Presentation on Free, Fair and Credible General Election 2007:
In his presentation on Ensuring Free, Fair and Credible General Election and Effective Women Participation, Mr. Dilshad stressed that the Election Commission is cognizant of the need for having accurate electoral rolls for holding free and fair elections and said that the ECP is already working on preparing new electoral rolls by conducting house to house surveys across the country since July 29, 2006 which will be completed by September 11, 2006 and, finalized and subsequently computerized by May 2007. He said that the general elections in 2002 were held on the basis of the list prepared by NADRA