Visit of US Delegation of Professional Fellows to PIPS Pakistan Institute for Parliamentary Services, Islamabad January 15, 2018

  • Publication Date: Tue, January 16, 2018

    On Monday, January 15, 2018, Pakistan Institute for Parliamentary Services, Islamabad with the collaboration of Centre for Peace and Development Initiatives (CPDI) hosted a delegation of professional fellows from the United States. The participants comprised of representatives from U.S. State Governments, policy advisors and civil society representatives. The visit of the delegation was coordinated by Mr. Vlad Spencer, senior program officer at World Learning, Washington D.C. The delegation included Mr. Kwanza Hall, City Councilman, Atlanta, Georgia; Ms. Catherine Turcer, Executive Director, Common Cause Ohio, Columbus, Ohio; Ms. Janet Pieren, Administrative Operations Manager, TEDC Creative Capital, Tulsa, Oklahoma; Mr. Nazar Zhdan, Advisor for Policy for the GOP Chairman, VanMeter Ashbrook & Associates, Columbus, Ohio along with representatives from CPDI.

    After the official reception of the distinguished delegation at Pakistan Institute for Parliamentary Services, Islamabad, the guests were given a tour of the PIPS building with a detailed elaboration on the working units at each floor of the organization. The delegates were then seated at the board room for an interactive knowledge sharing session between the representatives from United States and Pakistan.

    The session formally commenced with the recitation of Verses from the Holy Quran followed by a round of introductions from the visitors as well as members of the host country. All the guests expressed their appreciation towards PIPS for hosting them and were thoroughly welcomed by PIPS representatives. The introductions were followed by a briefing session on working of PIPS by Mr. Muhammad Rashid Mafzool Zaka, Director Research and IT at PIPS. He elaborated the four key services provided to the Parliament including parliamentary research, training and capacity building, legislative assistance and parliamentary outreach. Highlighting the core values at PIPS, Mr. Zaka accentuated the importance of non-partisanship, round-the-clock accessibility and anticipative role of a parliamentary services institute. He also mentioned the initiatives taken by PIPS under the leadership of Honourable Speaker National Assembly of Pakistan, Mr. Ayaz Sadiq, which include a flagship Parliamentary Studies Program and Parliament @ 70, a project of documenting the parliamentary history of Pakistan.

    A comprehensive knowledge sharing session on Parliamentary System of Pakistan was then conducted by Mr. Zafarullah Khan, the worthy Executive Director, Pakistan Institute for Parliamentary Services. Mr. Zafarullah forwarded a very warm welcome to the foreign guests and gave an interesting and informative address on the system of government in Pakistan. He termed Parliament as a unique institution which offers representation to every inch of a country. He said that democracy and politics are in the genes of Pakistani nation. There is a system of trichotomy of powers in Pakistan with an independent judiciary, executive and legislature. He also mentioned that the system of government in Pakistan is a replica of the Westminster style of democracy and unicameral federation has not been successful in Pakistan. At the end, he talked about the electoral procedure for choosing representatives and the upcoming elections in Pakistan in the near future.

    The address from the Executive Director, PIPS was followed by an interactive dialogue and Q&A session among the participants. Ms. Turcer from Ohio was inquisitive about the publishing of laws in the Gazette while Mr. Hall from Georgia discussed the role of social media in the political process of Pakistan. Mr. Zafarullah discussed the chaotic to creative role of social media and stated that the social media turnout rarely converts into political gains in the country. He also talked about the so-called CNN-ization of diplomacy, media teams of the political parties and the Cyber Crime Act in Pakistan. Also discussed was the topic of electronic voting in the light of forthcoming elections in Pakistan. Ms. Turcer informed the participants how the voting procedure is conducted through paper ballots along with electronic voting in U.S. and marked its introduction back in the year 2000. Pakistan is also expected to experiment the electronic voting machines in the upcoming elections.

    Moreover, Mr. Zhdan from Columbus, Ohio answered some queries regarding the stability of U.S. state departments and the U.S. foreign relations under the administration of the current President, Donald Trump. The participants shred their experiences and expressed their hope in strengthening the mutual collaboration among people of United States and Pakistan. The session concluded with a vote of thanks from the Executive Director, PIPS. Souvenirs and mementos were presented to the foreign guests followed by a group photo to end the day.