Political thinkers and politicians debate democracy in political parties

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Islamabad, March 01, 2016: In a Roundtable Conference organised by PILDAT on Internal Democracy of Political Parties of Pakistan, experts gathered together to stress upon the need for promotion of intra-party democracy in Pakistan.

The Roundtable Conference took place in the backdrop of PILDAT Report on Internal Democracy of Major Political Parties of Pakistan that was published on Feb 22, 2016. PILDAT assessment placed the Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) with 56% score (No. 1), the National Party (NP) with 47% score (No. 2), the PTI with 44% score (No. 3), the Awami National Party (ANP) with 40% score (No. 4), the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) with 36% score (No. 5), the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazlur Rehman (JUI-F) and Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM) (Both at No. 6) with 33% score, and the PML-N with 31% (No.7).

Former Speaker West Pakistan Assembly / former Senator and member of the PILDAT Steering Committee, Chaudhry Muhammad Anwer Bhinder highlighted the need for a regulatory body that should monitor the procedures and functions of political parties. He said that hereditary claims in political parties should be strongly discouraged and focus should be given to strengthening local chapters of parties so that they can grow.

Senior Journalist and President, CPNE, Mr. Mujib-ur-Rehman Shami, also member of the PILDAT Steering Committee noted that successive martial laws in Pakistan have severely affected structures of political parties. The focus of political parties should be on their constitutions and it is very important that they declare their sources of funding at all costs in order to promote transparency and ultimately democracy.

Development and Political Economist, Dr. Niaz Murtaza, a speaker at the Roundtable Conference said that the role of civil society is crucial in institutionalizing the political parties of Pakistan. He also said that the assessment of democracy within political parties should be carried out throughout the year instead of on an annual basis.

Among the Discussants present at the Conference, veteran politician Makhdoom Muhammad Javed Hashmi said that PILDAT’s effort to assess democratic procedures of political parties is an effort in the right direction. An accountability body for political parties is the need of the hour.

ANP Secretary General, Mian Iftikhar Hussain was of the view that assessment of the constitution of a political party cannot alone depict democracy within a party. Despite grave challenges faced by ANP in Peshawar, the party is running its affairs in the most democratic manner possible.

Mr. Ayub Malik, Punjab President of National Party lauded PILDAT’s effort to highlight key concerns regarding intra-party democracy. He also mentioned that the National Party has conducted its party elections nationwide and should no longer be termed as a regional party.

Earlier, Mr. Ahmed Bilal Mehboob, President, PILDAT presented key findings of the assessment report and raised three key questions for debate at the conference and beyond. How important is democracy within political parties? Why is intra-party democracy not given due importance by the general public, as most popular parties are the least democratic? How can political parties be institutionalised instead of being lengthened shadow of their leaders?

Discussants present at the conference included Mir Hasil Khan Bizenjo, President of National Party, Makhdoom Muhammad Javed Hashmi, Former MNA, Mr. Shahid Hamid, Senior Advocate and Former Governor Punjab, Mr. Ghazi Salahuddin, Senior Journalist, The News, Mr. Iftikhar Ahmad, Senior Journalist and Anchor, Mr. Ilahi Bukhsh Soomro, Former Speaker, National Assembly of Pakistan, Mr. Wusatullah Khan, Senior Journalist and Anchor, Dawn News, Mr. Hafiz Tahir Khalil, Bureau Chief, Jang, Islamabad andMuhammad Ziauddin, Executive Editor, The Express Tribune.


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