ISLAMABAD: A young legislator seeking to boost participation in politics and civic affairs is utilizing the internet as a platform in Pakistan to address problems his constituents face.
The idea, says Senator Osman Saifullah Khan, came from the US legal system; “I’ve modelled a website on sites maintained by US legislators,” Saifullah says, explaining that American congressmen and senators address the public’s day-to-day concerns via feedback received through these sites.
Saifullah, represents the district of Islamabad in the Upper House of parliament on behalf of the Pakistan Peoples Party. The city, according to the senator, is a fertile virtual ground, with a higher than average rate of literacy and Internet penetration. “My website allows me to seamlessly and economically connect with people and it enables them to get in touch with me easily,” he explains.
“After I launched the site, I have been approached by different organizations seeking my intervention in matters of public policy and governance,” Saifullah says, adding, “I have received representations regarding Internet policy and censorship as well as representations from citizens in Islamabad complaining about the inaction of the Capital Development Authority on a variety of matters.”
The complaints cover a range of issues, most recently including the CDA’s failure to remove trees responsible for Islamabad’s record-breaking pollen counts.
The grandson of former president Ishaq Khan, Saifullah was born in Peshawar. “I am a fourth generation parliamentarian,” he says, “and I’ve grown up seeing members of my family discharging their duties as public representatives of the people of Lakki Marwat in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.”
“We need to attract intelligent, hard-working young men and women to the civil service,” Saifullah feels, “and I would tell Pakistanis who have been as fortunate as I have that if we want our children to be safe and prosper, we need to create a society that is more equitable.”
Saifullah told The Express Tribune that he would like to be regarded as a problem-solver. “Too often people in Pakistan hold parliamentarians in low regard,” he says, “and all of us have a duty to conduct ourselves in a manner that changes this perception.”
His long term goal includes achieving literacy in the country up to the secondary school level and to push for a quality of education that places Pakistan amongst the top ten literate countries in Asia.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 17th, 2014.
Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.
For more information, please see our Comments FAQ
Pray for your success
I think it is a great move by Senator Osman Saifullah Khan. He is Chief of our area in Lakki Marwat. He is very humble, educated, kind, compassionate, and decent person. He is highly principled and believe in doing right think. I wish him more luck in his goal to make pakistan better. I pray for his success.
Good initiative for other parliamentarians to follow.
Also, surprisingly glad to know that Usman represents Islamabad capital territory in the upper house on behalf of the Pakistan Peoples Party!.
Factastic! If he were PTI, they would have been shouting it everywhere
Well done. This is a great new idea to interact with the common people. I believe if people in power corridors interact with the common people they would find practical solutions to complex problems faced by the nation today.
I tried the website and after ages of processing, it gave an error. I refreshed and the same bahvior was observed. Honestly, it was the expected outcome. I think the senator needs to put in practice some site maintenance and optimization here.
PPP today... PML tommorrow.... dictators in the past.
It's funny because MQM's Syed Ali Raza Abidi did this a looooooonggg time ago.
one of the few PPP politicians' actions I agree with.