05 July, 2011

“People’s Assembly” urges Govt. to restore peace in the country

Sana Jamal

Islamabad – Following a two-day People’s Assembly gathering in Abbottabad, a unanimous resolution urged the Government to stress on the need for restoration of peace in the country and to invest in the people by spending on social services, health and education to lay the foundation of a welfare state.
The key topics under discussion at the event included Pakistan’s Constitution; Pakistan - Welfare State or Security State; role of political and security institutions; internal and external threats; state of women and role of media. Sungi Development Foundation (SDF) arranged the People’s Assembly to provide a platform to the general masses to raise their voices on main issues faced by them and to discuss and identify the way forward. SDF’s Annual Omar Asghar Khan Awami Assembly titled “Peoples Sovereignty and Security - Way Forward” was held during 1-3 July, 2011. The People’s Assembly is an annual event of SDF to advocate and enhance support for the empowerment of the marginalized groups of the society.

Samina Khan, Executive Director of SDF welcoming the participants noted “although terrorism is a global phenomenon but it is currently deep-rooted in the South Asian region and specifically in four SAARC countries namely, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India and Bangladesh, both in terms of its origin and immediate impact.” Therefore, it was imperative to develop an effective collective approach at the SAARC level also, she stressed. Sheikh Asad Rahman, Director Program of SDF explained the aims and objectives of the concepts of the Conference.
Bushra Gohar (MNA) speaking at People's Assembly
 held in Abbottabad during 1-3 July.

Zafarullah Khan, the Executive Director of Centre for Civic Education maintained that “only democracy can provide the much-needed relief to the people and people’s participation is must to strengthen democracy.”

Justice Nasira Iqbal observed that accountability, freedom of information, and local government acts are the essential demands of people which will lead towards economic development of the masses. Reminding the people of the power of vote, she urged people to “wisely use this vigorous power by voting the rights person.”

Ayesha Siddiqa, the renowned defence analyst explained the role of political and security institutions in providing security to the people. “Security of common man should be the main point of concern” she stressed and added that arm forces should be accountable to the people’s representatives in the parliament, she said.

Throwing light on Balochistan case with the participants, Dr. Ishaq Balouch said that “democracy cannot flourish in countries that have been under controlling rule of hereditary politics for long.” Zahir Shah Safi from FATA Reforms Movement (FRM) stressed that “FATA reforms are vital to bring economic and social development in FATA region.”

Speaking on the occasion, Bushra Gohar, ANP’s Member of Parliament, said that “we need to make Pakistan more democratic and 18th amendment is a great breakthrough to strengthen democracy in Pakistan.”

Dr Rakhshanda Parveen of Creative Anger Group reminded the audiences that “women remain vulnerable than men in Pakistan therefore women deserve to be economically, politically, and socially aware and empowered.”
Mazhar Arif, Executive Director, Society for Alternative Media and Research (SAMAR) talked on role of media in promoting peace and security.

On second day, a cultural event was also held at Shimla Hills – a scenic spot, where Sheema Kermani, a well-known classical dancer and social activist presented a marvellous performance with her members which was well-received by the audiences.