A week-long leadership course in Islamabad for young activists working on democracy concluded on Friday with a vow to protect the devolution process, said a press release issued by Mehergarh.
The purpose of the training, organised by Mehergarh Youth Consortium, a loosely structured platform of youth groups and organisations, was to inform the youth about the constitutional changes in the overall institutional framework of Pakistan. The course extrapolated the basic elements of democracy and the essence of the 18th Amendment.
The training included a detailed course on the concept of federalism, the 18th Amendment, the devolution process and the local bodies system intertwined with a basic course on communication skills to help young activists communicate their points of view. The course also helped demystify certain myths propagated by those with vested interests to hinder the devolution process. The overall theme of the training was to move forward, engage with the provincial assemblies and take the devolution process to the third tier.
The participants were given Senator Raza Rabbani’s new book “Biography of Federalism” as a textbook for the course. Facilitators for the training course included Mehergarh Director Dr Fouzia Saeed, Centre for Civic Education Executive Director Zafarullah Khan, Baacha Khan Trust Educational Foundation Managing Director Dr Khadim Hussain, Mehergarh Programme Director Maliha Hussain, Institute of Social Sciences Director Rafiq Jaffer, Amjad Bhatti and Paul Lundberg.
The young activists were ecstatic when Dr Abdul Malik Baloch, former Senator and President of the National Party in Balochistan, came to talk to the participants regarding the struggle of democracy in Pakistan.
To conclude the ceremony, IA Rehman gave a lecture titled “Way Forward”, suggesting that we all become proactive in ensuring that devolution trickles down to the third tier of governance in Pakistan.
Muhammad Haris from Neengar Society said that “the transfer of power from the federation to the province is a major step in stabilising democracy in the country”, while Shaheena Kausar of Women Worker’s Union called provincial autonomy “a long awaited promise that was fulfilled by our democratic government” while adding that “it is our responsibility to protect the Constitution”. Zuha, a young activist from Gilgit-Baltistan, considered the 18th Amendment “a soft revolution in Pakistan”.
Participants from Baacha Khan Educational Foundation, Progressive Youth Forum, Uelect Pakistan, Awam, Human Empowerment Leadership Programme, Youth Senate of Pakistan, Indus Resource Centre, DTCE, Grass Root in Action, Sindhi Language Authority, the British Council, Women Workers’ Union, Daily Ibrat, SPO, Neengar Society, Sindh Dost Study Circle, Progressive Youth Forum, Y-Peer Network, Aware Girls and Youth Parliament of Pakistan attended the training.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 31st, 2012.
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