E-Parliament, e-democracy reality in Pakistan: Mushahidullah

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ISLAMABAD, June 30 (APP): The government and the Parliament of Pakistan have played proactive role in bringing e-parliament and e-democracy to reality, being true agents of social change and robust participatory democracy in the modern age.

Senator Mushahiduallah Khan said this while addressing first plenary session of the Inter-Parliamentary Union World E-Parliament Assembly in Valparaiso, Chile according to a press release issued here on Thursday.

He said, although the World e-Parliament Report lists resource constraints and lack of strategic planning and political will as key obstacles in e-enablement, Pakistan has done reasonably well on all three counts despite challenges.

Pakistan’s Parliament on its part is also taking significant strides to digitize its in-house business and other related working, he added.

Senator Mushahidullah Khan is currently heading a 4-member delegation of the Senate to participate in the World E- Parliament Conference from June 28-30, 2016 in Valparaiso, Chile.

Other members of the delegation include Senators Saifullah Khan Bangash, Saeedul Hassan Mandokhel and Aurangzeb Khan Aurakzai.

Mushahidullah further said that the current democratic government was actively pursuing e-democracy and ICTs related goals through massive investments in education, training and infrastructure development.

Senator Mushahidullah also recommended to constitute a special committee mandated to address problems of the resource deficient parliaments, creation of pool of expertise and funding to help legislatures automate their activities besides developing partnerships to assist Parliament struggling to develop a workflow-based system.

Senator Mushahidullah Khan termed the World E-Parliament Report 2016 a thought provoking document having immense value for parliamentary community across both sides of the digital divide.

He said that the report highlighted the headways parliaments have made towards digitization besides pointing out specific obstacles at financial, technical, human resource and political level hampering legislatures from fully embracing the concept of e-parliament.

“Healthy signs, showing parliaments’ increasing inclination to using technology to better deliver and better connect in a digital age have been documented as compared to the report published in 2008,” Senator Mushahidullah said.

He further said “ICTs offer unprecedented opportunities to learn from one another by sharing experiences.”

However, he said that despite huge opportunities of sharing and developing common services, parliaments, especially in developing countries, have struggled to ensure quality and sustainability in developing their information and communication systems due to paucity of resources and technical expertise on part of both staff and members to inadequate political will to embrace change.

He emphasized that the way forward lies in enhanced inter-parliamentary collaboration and partnerships to identify gaps, deliberate solutions and assist implementation.

E-enablement of Pakistan Senate, Mushahidullah said, is a key strategic, policy and operational measure being undertaken expeditiously over the last few years and plans are also under consideration to replace hard copies of bills and other documents provided to the members during the plenary session with ‘tablets and laptops’ as a prelude to making Pakistan Senate a paperless chamber.