Newly-launched Pakistan Civil Society Forum endorsed Islamabad Resolution

A representative forum of civil society organisations from across Pakistan met today in Islamabad to discuss ways for effective engagement with federal and, provincial governments and state institutions, civil society and concerned citizens for strengthening a representative democracy, citizenship, and social and economic justice through coordinated and focused lobbying and actions. Says a press release issued by Zulfiqar Halepoto, a renowned activist and scholar.

civilsocietyThe national consultation held at the Aurat Foundation’s office was convened by South-Asia Partnership- Pakistan and participated by leading civil society organizations endorsed the following resolution :

We RECOGNIZE the significance and importance of this assembly in the back drop of present scenario where the country is faced with serious problems of bad governance including terrorism, lawlessness, rising poverty, energy crisis and other economic challenges. We also note with pleasure the smooth transition of power from one elected government to the other. However, we consider it important to stress on the newly elected government to take the democratic traditions forward and address to the urgent and important issues of public ensuring people centered governance.

We BELIEVE that neither the country’s development nor its policy making adequately involves public participation. As a result of the top down development, the implementation gaps notwithstanding, issues of ownership, ecology, access to resources stand majorly compromised. We emphasise that planning and development must be a bottom-up approach and the state must make an effort to make people’s involvement in their own development and future possible.

We NOTE with concern a gradual indiscernible reversal of devolution through the Constitutional Reforms (18th Amendment) that will deprive the people of Pakistan of a landmark gain through a democratic process. Ambiguities in the responsibilities and authorities of the federal and provincial institutions demand clarity and reconstitution of roles. We believe the constitution and 18th Amendment must be considered as guiding principles to determine the role of the federal government and provincial governments. Federal government’s obsession with trespassing into provinces’ domain will have far reaching ramifications. This approach has intensified a deep rooted distrust among federating units and must be refrained forthwith. There is a need to take devolution process from provinces to district level with substantive institutional reforms and genuine representation of the public.

We are also TROUBLED with issues of gender discrimination, growing intolerance against non-Muslims and the rising trends of ethnic and sectarian violence all over the country.

We are HUMBLED with the contribution and gains of civil society organizations in upholding citizens’ rights, relentless struggle for fundamental freedoms, free judiciary and democratic development. This assembly concludes with this resolve to continue its struggle for further deepening democratic processes and traditions through coordinated and focused actions among diverse civil society groups and institutions.

We RESOLVE forming the Pakistan Civil Society Forum as a joint platform of action, coordination and engagement with government, national and international institutions. We believe this platform will be instrumental in promoting joint actions for citizens’ rights and bridge the gap between government and people, advocate issues of fundamental importance to people and reemphasize important issues in the national agenda.

THE Forum REAFFIRMS its commitment for continuing its struggle for citizens’ rights and democratic, human and social development in the country.

We REASSURE our constituents to become a viable and effective platform for coordination, collective actions, lobbying and engagement with diverse actors including political parties, federal and provincial governments, media, national and international institutions.

A national level core committee has been formed comprising representatives of all federating units and rights-based organizations. The committee will engage other CSOs, public representatives, state institutions and concerned citizens for further diversifying its support base.

Senior representatives of the following civil society organizations participated in the meeting and endorsed the resolutions:

Aurat Foundation, South Asia Partenership Pakistan (SAP-PK), Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), Strengthening Participatory Organisations (SPO), SUNGI Development Foundation, Sindh Agriculture, Water and Forestory Cooperative (SAWFCO), Institute of Development Pratices and Services (IDSP), Seemorgh, Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI), Khwendo Kor, Pakistan Institute for Labour, Education and Research (PILER), Management & Development Centre (MDC), Women Rights Association (WRA), Bargad, Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum (PFF), Interactive Resource Centre (IRC), Rozan, Bedari (Sialkot), Development Action for Mobilization & EmancipatioN (DAMEN), Awaz CDS, Cholistan Development Council (CDC), Potohar Organization for Development Advocacy (PODA), Acid Survivors Foundation (ASF), Insan Foundation, PAIMAN, Society for Alternative Media and Research (SAMAR), Social Awareness & Development Organization (SADO), Jobs Creating Development Society (JCDS), SEHER, Christian Study Centre (CSC).

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