Democracy cannot flourish without an economic agenda. You will not have democracy without prosperity. The public must have a well-aligned moral compass to fuel the social contract, said German Ambassador Martin Kobler.
Kobler was speaking at the Center for Research and Security Studies’ (CRSS) flagship programme, the Pakistan Center for Excellence’s (PACE) concluding event in Islamabad. He was joined by the Australian High Commissioner Margaret Adamson, the Danish Ambassador Rolf Holmboe, Netherland Deputy Head of Mission Josephine Frantzen, and CRSS Executive Director Imtiaz Gul.
Holmboe added that one cannot have prosperity without democracy, which builds on the principles of equality, diversity and tolerance. Further, he apprised the audience that democracy is much more than elections; it is an interactive process, which goes beyond voting and everyone needs to continue participating, voice issues, exchange ideas and ensure accountability. This viewpoint was also shared by the other speakers.
Adamson stated that the role of Pakistan is very significant in the pursuit of global peace. She said that the role of women is a key component of a thriving nation. The empowerment of women is a pre-requisite for a strongly functional democracy, because half the population, if disempowered, will only hurt a nation, she added.
Netherlands Deputy Head of Mission Frantzen said that the dynamics of our world are changing fast in these contemporary times. She was of the view that we need to keep re-visiting our norms and values to accommodate the diversity. To understand this and the complex issues of the present, like conflict between identity and integration, requires a lot of dialogue and debate. This is where PACE comes in and great work has been done in this regard, she added.
All four diplomats welcomed the continuation of the democratic vote in Pakistan, commended the Pakistani public on going out and casting their votes, and praised the resilience of female voters in difficult circumstances.
Towards the end, the crowd was presented with the accomplishments from five of the over 630 alumni of the PACE programme, in promoting the idea of diversity, plurality, and multiculturalism. Gul concluded that teachers are the gatekeepers in any society, and that teachers should work hard to invoke critical thinking in young minds.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 3rd, 2018.