International experts arrive to discuss democratic devolution

September 21, 2014 Off By Web Desk

KARACHI: A series of workshops aimed at consolidating democratic devolution in Pakistan are currently taking place in Karachi. The forum of federations is hosting this series of workshops in support of democratic devolution here in Pakistan. International experts have gathered from Australia, Brazil, Canada and South Asia, including Pakistan experts, to discuss this important issue with participants from Pakistan’s political leadership, media and civil society community.

The historical basis of the federal idea in Pakistan and indeed the important role that the provinces have played was identified by Dr Syed Jaffer Ahmed of the Pakistan Study Centre, Karachi University. He emphasised the role of the Council of Common Interest (CCI) and its functionality and Pakistan’s other intergovernmental institutions as vital to the success of federalism in Pakistan.

Dr Ikramul Haq Advocate of the Supreme Court of Pakistan and International tax counsel illustrated the fiscal challenges confronting Pakistan, specifically in the area of tax collection and the need for a shift in the consciousness of who pay taxes in Pakistan.

Dr Rachel Laforest, an intergovernmental expert from Canada, described the push and pull of centralization and decentralization dynamics in federal states. She emphasized the importance of intergovernmental mechanisms as spaces dedicated to dialogue and debate which support the democratic basis of any federation.

Brazil’s own unique experience in democratic transition and devolution was exemplified by Fatima Guerreiro, as a valuable comparison for Pakistan’s implementation of its 18th constitutional amendment. Professor Roberta Ryan of UTS Sydney was excited by the overwhelming interest and support in increasing the participation of women and building on ways to further involve women in Pakistan’s political process.

Phillip Gonzalez, Program Manager at the Forum of Federations who opened proceedings, described the Forum as an international organization whose mission is building democracy through the sharing of experiences in federalism and decentralization.

The forum is based in Canada and supported by nine other partner countries including the Government of Pakistan, who supports this initiative through the Ministry of Inter Provincial Coordination. He said that the series of workshops was only possible through the generous support of the government of Canada. He stated that the 18th Constitutional Amendment and the devolution of power that it embodied was a significant step in moving power closer to the people of Pakistan.

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