Improving parliamentary oversight in Pakistan and beyond

May 11, 2016

On 11 May 2016, UNDP Pakistan brought together members of the National Assembly, Senate and prominent representatives from civil society in a focus group discussing the essential parliamentary duty of holding government to account. The discussions in Islamabad will add a Pakistani perspective to the Second Global Parliamentary Report on Parliament’s Power to Hold Government to Account: Realities and Perspectives on Oversight, prepared by UNDP in partnership with the Inter-Parliamentary Union, with input from 68 different countries.

Members of Pakistan’s national and provincial assemblies and senate play a crucial role in democratic governance. As the representatives of the people they are responsible for oversight: demanding accountability from the executive, reviewing and passing laws, and bridging between government and citizens. The members of the focus group identified the major challenges to parliamentary oversight in Pakistan, strategies to address these challenges, and to identify examples of good practice.

The discussion was hosted by ex-minister and former chair of the UNESCO Executive Board Dr Attiya Inayatullah, along with UNDP Chief Technical Advisor James Littleton.

Participants included former senator and human rights activist Afrasiab Khattak and Bushra Gauhar (ANP); MNAs Shafqat Mehmood and Shehryar Afridi (PTI); Senator Farhatullah Babar and MNA Shazia Marri (PPP-P); MNAs Ali Raza Abidi, Sufyan Yousuf and Muzammil Qureshi (MQM); women’s rights activist Farzana Bari; the former head of the National Commission on the Status of Women, Khawar Mumtaz; and former Senate Secretary, Iftikhar Ullah Babar.

The participants engaged in a stimulating cross-party discussion on current weaknesses on oversight, especially within Pakistan’s political culture and institutional capacity deficits, and offered innovative and pragmatic recommendations on how parliamentary oversight can be strengthened to improve standards of democratic governance. 

The country report based on the proceedings will form part of the Second UNDP-IPU Global Report which is expected to be published in November this year.