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Seminar on international democracy day 2022

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(Headline) – Democracy only way to save the country: WPC

12th September 2022 – ‘Democracy is the collective wisdom of the nation and its respect lies in the democratic system as a whole,’ said Mr. Raja Pervez Ashraf, Speaker of the National Assembly of Pakistan at the conclusion of a seminar organized on the theme of international day of democracy (IDD).

The seminar included representation from all the major political parties as well as participation from the disabled and transgender community. It also included civil society organizations, women political workers, academia and media.

The welcome remarks at the opening of the seminar were given by Ms. Shahida Rehmani, secretary WPC. She said that no democracy can work without the meaningful role of women. Furthermore, she said that she pays her respect to the honorable speaker national assembly for supporting the WPC and thanked the support of the transgender and disabled community.

Ms. Abia Akram, founder of the national forum of women with disabilities in Pakistan, spoke candidly at the seminar. She said almost all of us were brought to the venue on a wheelchair, which she explained in this manner that the cars we sit in and travel in, has a wheel and a chair, just like the wheelchair of a disabled person.

She further said we need to finish systematic barriers in Pakistan which stop the disabled people from excelling in any field.

Ms. Maya Zaman, a transgender activist, said that presently there is a debate ongoing about who is a real transgender? She said that the protection act of the transgender has been challenged in court by a right-wing political party who says that all transgeders are fake.

She further stated that the 2017 population census has different number of transgender persons while the national database and registration authority (NADRA) has very low numbers of her community. She said that this issue needs to be looked into on a priority basis.

Ms. Kishoo Bai, senator of PPPP, said that the majority should not be afraid of a tiny minority and allow them to live freely in Pakistan. She said that we need to stand up for minority rights as it benefits the society at large. She also thanked her party co-chairman Mr. Bilawal Bhutto Zardari due to who’s support she is in the senate of Pakistan.

Ms. Sana Jamali, independent senator from Balochistan told a harrowing tale of the damage that the recent floods have wreaked in her native province. She said that rainfall was ongoing for a consecutive 18 days and that Balochistan usually received only 10 mm of rain. However, during the recent floods, it received a huge 240 mm of rain which has destroyed the infrastructure of Pakistan’s largest Balochistan.

She said that around 60,000 women are pregnant and are due to give birth in the next few months and they are not getting any sort of medical care which their situation requires.

Ms. Farukh Khan, member national assembly from PML-Q said that a woman has so many rights given to in our religion Islam. She said that showing restraint and patience is a key part of democracy and we should not stray away from this.

Keynote speaker was the Hon. Speaker National Assembly, Mr. Raja P. Ashraf. Mr. Ashraf said that before 1970, the population of Pakistan was 10 crores and out of those, only 40,000 people in East Pakistan and 40,000 people in West Pakistan were allowed to vote on behalf of their communities. Hence, only 80,000 people voted to bring in the representatives of 10 crore people. He said that democracy in Pakistan is young and needs time to mature like its western counterparts.

In conclusion, Ms. Shahid Rehmani thanked all the participants and said that we need to work with a new aim to make democracy strong in our country and we need to realize the power of our vote.