Digital democracy: Senator creates online platform for constituents

Published: February 17, 2014
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Senator Osman Saifullah Khan. PHOTO: OSMANSKHAN.COM

Senator Osman Saifullah Khan. PHOTO: OSMANSKHAN.COM

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.

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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.

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Reader Comments (14)

  • Humayun
    Feb 17, 2014 - 11:13AM

    Encouraging indeed

    Recommend

  • Humayun
    Feb 17, 2014 - 11:15AM

    link to the website does not open up !Recommend

  • Waleed K
    Feb 17, 2014 - 12:42PM

    one of the few PPP politicians’ actions I agree with.

    Recommend

  • Mujtaba
    Feb 17, 2014 - 1:03PM

    It’s funny because MQM’s Syed Ali Raza Abidi did this a looooooonggg time ago.

    Recommend

  • Rumormonger
    Feb 17, 2014 - 1:07PM

    PPP today… PML tommorrow…. dictators in the past.

    Recommend

  • ZElahi
    Feb 17, 2014 - 1:09PM

    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.

    Recommend

  • Ikram ul Haq Abbasi
    Feb 17, 2014 - 2:01PM

    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.

    Recommend

  • Askari
    Feb 17, 2014 - 2:37PM

    I am glad to know there are some young politician who believe in serving People.Recommend

  • MMB
    Feb 17, 2014 - 10:34PM

    He’s not the first one, Ali Raza Abidi from MQM did this a few months backRecommend

  • Umar
    Feb 18, 2014 - 12:24AM

    Factastic! If he were PTI, they would have been shouting it everywhere

    Recommend

  • Saqib
    Feb 18, 2014 - 10:42AM

    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!.

    Recommend

  • Hanif Tajazai
    Feb 18, 2014 - 11:48PM

    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.

    Recommend

  • Jamil Ahmad Khan
    May 19, 2014 - 8:45AM

    Pray for your success

    Recommend

  • May 26, 2014 - 2:46PM

    Good Act toward doing something new. I really appreciate your good thaughts.Recommend

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