Participatory federalism: Empower citizens through inclusive democracy: Senator Taj Haider
Playwright-turned-politician calls for protection of rights of common people. PHOTO: NNI
An opposition senator has emphasized the significance of participatory democracy and protection of the rights of common people.
“Democracy is the original dream of the citizens, and it is only democracy that could ensure their participation in the affairs of the state,” Senator Taj Haider said while speaking at an interactive session on “Participatory democracy and citizens empowerment: Post-18th amendment scenario” arranged by the Pakistan Study Group on Federalism, here at the National Institute of Historical and Cultural Research, Quaid-i-Azam University here on Wednesday.
“Our state has been made by the public and it has to protect their rights and interests, not merely the interests of the elite,” Haider, a progressive politician and playwright, said.
“The public participation ensures citizen empowerment and empowered citizens create a progressive and prosperous country,” he said.
The 18th constitutional amendment was a milestone in the history of the country, he remarked.
He said that the lawmakers had to make compromises to get it through for the sake of democracy and citizen empowerment, the founding member of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP).
Haider, however, expressed his dissatisfaction over the workings of the 18th amendment towards participatory democracy and citizen empowerment, under the shadow of an “over-centralised state mechanism”.
“The Council of Common Interest (CCI) does not meet regularly as mandated by the constitution despite constant requisitions by the provinces,” the soft-spoken senator said.
About the controversy on the route of China-Pak Economic Corridor, he said “It must be decided with mutual agreement between provinces in the spirit of fairness.”
A recipient of Sitara-e-Imtiaz and PTV awards, Haider said that disruption of democracy had only deepened the crisis of governance in the country in the past.
Pakistan Study Group on Federalism Steering Committee head Dr Sajid Awan said that the experiments with establishing writ of the state without empowering citizens have failed time and again.
“We must forsake those failed strategies of state building,” he stressed.
Dr Awan proposed that the state must respect the will of the people.
He gave examples from successful federations of the world that have progressed due to citizen empowerment through a participatory model of inclusive democracy.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 8th, 2015.