Denmark supports new USD 3.5 m democracy program for Pakistan – increased focus on youth

Islamabad: The Government of Denmark Thursday launched a USD 3.5 million program for Pakistan on democratic development and good governance in joint collaboration with the civil society organisation PILDAT (Pakistan Institute of Legislative Development and Transparency).

The new program was announced during the presentation of Pakistan Report of State of Democracy in South Asia – an event organized by PILDAT with support of the Danish International development agency (Danida). An important feature of the new program is the engagement of youth in democratic processes and dialogue.

Denmark Ambassador Sorensen on the occasion shared that around 30 per cent of Pakistan’s population is between 15-29 years. “Our program has a special focus on instilling democratic values in the youth through the Youth Parliament program. Under this program,

young people from across the country are trained in the values of democracy. This creates understanding, respect and tolerance for other people’s opinions – besides being an innovative approach to engage youth in such an important process”.

He emphasised that this project should not be seen in isolation. “Our approach and our assistance should be seen in its totality. Denmark is also providing support to primary education in the conflict affected areas.

And we are now also more focused on facilitating contacts between Danish and Pakistani businesses so that we can create jobs, growth – and ultimately eliminate poverty”.

Mr. Ahmed Bilal Mehboob, Executive Director of PILDAT said that “Many Pakistanis are rightly proud of the elections in 2013, where one democratically elected Government succeeded another.

Yet democracy is still fragile, so we must continuously keep an eye on the political development and make demands to our politicians to consolidate democracy. Even more citizens from all parts of society should actively participate in the democratic processes.

The citizens need better information about the government’s policies and practices to hold them responsible. We are delighted that Denmark supports our work.

It is in everyone’s interest that we strengthen the democratic progressive forces in Pakistan, so that we do not leave the playing field to the radical forces.

During the ceremony, Joint Director of PILDAT Ms. Aasiya Riaz presented key findings from the State of Democracy in Pakistan Report, which was followed by a presentation on findings from the India Report by Mr. Sanjay Kumar, Director CSDS.

Within this framework, a panel discussion was also held, where Dr. Ijaz Shafi Gilani, Chairman Gallup Pakistan, Dr. Hassan Askari Rizvi, Defence & Political Analyst and Mr. Salman Akram Raja, Advocate Supreme Court of Pakistan also spoke on the matter.