Challenges to Pakistan’s Democracy

September 14, 2011
10:00 am - 11:30 am

This event featured:

Dr. Fouzia Saeed, Mehergarh- A Centre for Learning

Since civilian rule returned to Pakistan following the 2008 elections, Pakistan’s fragile democratic rule faces many challenges before it can begin to deliver greater stability, prosperity, and rule of law. Militancy and lawlessness, inflation and economic hardship, political infighting, and corruption have all persisted.

Despite these disappointments, there have been some notable achievements. In April 2010, Pakistan’s National Assembly unanimously voted in favor of the 18th Amendment which repealed undemocratic amendments introduced by military dictators, strengthened the federal parliamentary character of the Constitution, and also conferred two new fundamental rights—the right to education and information. The powers of a number of central government ministries were formally transferred to the provinces on July 1, 2011, despite fears that the provincial governments were not adequately prepared and did not have sufficient administrative and technical capacity to take on their expanded responsibilities.

Dr. Fouzia Saeed, one of Pakistan’s most well-known and highly respected social activists who played a key role in the passage of two landmark anti-sexual harassment laws in 2010, offered her perspective on the challenges and opportunities of Pakistan’s democratic transition.

Dr. Fouzia Saeed is currently Director of Mehergarh- A Centre for Learning, an institute committed to transform the youth of Pakistan, as well as the Director of the Secretariat for the Alliance Against Sexual Harassment (AASHA). Prime Minister Gilani appointed Dr. Saeed as chairperson of the National Implementation Watch Committee in 2010 and prior to that as a member of the National Commission on the Status of Women. Dr. Saeed has worked for decades on issues such as violence against women, prostitution, sexual harassment, bonded labor, minority rights, and anti-talibanization. During her career she has headed the UN Gender Program in Pakistan, served as Pakistan Country Director for Action Aid and founded the first women’s crisis center in Pakistan in 1991.