Islamabad, September 13, 2022: National Assembly Speaker Raja Pervaiz Ashraf on Monday said that democracy was the collective wisdom of the nation and its respect depended on the democratic system as a whole.
Addressing a seminar organized by the Women’s Parliamentary Caucus (WPC) in collaboration with Aurat Foundation at the Pakistan Institute for Parliamentary Services (PIPS), the NA speaker said that democracy in Pakistan was young and needed time to mature like its western counterparts.
Pervaiz said that before 1970, the population of Pakistan was 100 million and out of those, only 40,000 people in East Pakistan and 40,000 people in West Pakistan were allowed to vote on behalf of their communities. Hence, only 80,000 people voted to bring in the representatives of that entire population (100 mln).
The seminar included representation from all the major political parties as well as participation from the disabled and the transgender community. It also included civil society organizations, women political workers, academia and media, said a news release.
The welcoming remarks of WPC Secretary Dr Shahida Rehmani said that no democracy could work without the meaningful role of women.
Furthermore, she thanked the NA speaker for always supporting the WPC platform in raising voices for women and being a staunch advocate of women’s empowerment.
She also thanked representatives of persons with disabilities (PWDs), minorities and transgender community for joining the event.
She reiterated that the integration of every marginalized group showed the presence of inclusive democracy in a country. They were an important fragment of the Pakistani society, she said.
Executive Director of Aurat Foundation Naeem Mirza said that from 2008-13 women legislators were very active in the parliament and this showed through their work since most of the legislation regarding women’s rights was done during this period.
Senator Kishoo Bai said that the majority should not be afraid of a tiny minority and allow them to live freely in Pakistan.
She stressed the need for supporting minority rights as it benefited the society at large. She also thanked Bilawal Bhutto Zardari with whose support she was in the senate.
Senate Sana Jamali told a harrowing tale of the damage that the recent floods wreaked in her native province.
She said that rainfall was ongoing for 18 consecutive days and that Balochistan usually received only 10 mm of rain. However, during the recent floods, it received a massive 240 mm of rain which had caused havoc in Balochistan.
Around 60,000 women, she said, were pregnant and were due to give birth in the next few months. However, they were not getting any sort of medical care that their situation required, she added.
MNA Farukh Khan said that Islam gave woman significant rights. She said that showing restraint and patience was a key part of democracy and they should not stray away from this.
Dr Shahida Rehmani thanked all the participants and said that there was a need to work with a new aim to make democracy strong in the country and to realize the power of vote.