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2 day international conference titled “Pakistan: Challenges to Democracy

LAHORE A two-day international conference titled “Pakistan: Challenges to Democracy, Governance and National Unity”, hosted by Punjab University (PU) Department of History and Pakistan Study Centre, kicked off at the Dr Pervaiz Hasan Environmental Law Centre on Monday.

PU Vice Chancellor Prof Dr Mujahid Kamran inaugurated the event while international scholars from the US, Germany, France, Russia, China and Turkey also attended the moot. Scholars from the leading academic institutions of Pakistan, PU’s faculty members and students were also a part of the event. Addressing the inaugural session, Dr Kamran urged the leaders to develop consensus on allocating at least four percent of GDP to education and termed lack of education as root-cause to all the problems faced by the country. He said that the policies of the US were not controlled by the people but by a highly powerful cabal of rich families.

He said, “All the conflicts of the world are prompted by the US and allied agencies in service of their corporate masters.”

The VC said surprisingly, there were 4,058 counter-terrorism institutions in the US, which were functioning contrary to their title, and the National Security Agency was intercepting 1.7 billion communications.

Prof Dr Qalb-e-Abid, delivering his welcome address, said that some recent foreign surveys had painted a bleak picture of Pakistan’s future. Nevertheless, he said, “These negative observations should not offend us, instead each one of us should focus on proper thinking, planning, policy formulation and its implementation, which is the need of the hour.” He said that a major concern of the country was to manage its foreign relations, especially with the US and India.

Florida State University’s School of Communication Director Prof Dr Stephen D McDowell talked about the relationship – symbiotic or ambivalent – between media and individual frames. He highlighted the politico-judicial crisis in Pakistan since 2007 and said that media frames had influenced public opinion and consequently got affected by the individual frames in shaping and packaging of the media content.

Prof Dr Jean-Luc Racine, a senior research fellow from France, said that beyond strong ideological stands, socio-economic dynamics were also at play. He said that more than anything else, the deficit of good governance was probably one of the key factors behind the current challenges the nation was facing.

Faith University, Istanbul, Associate Professor Prof Dr Ihsan Yilmaz said that Pakistan’s lack of penetration in society coupled with the inconsistent and unstable legal system had been a source of unofficial legal pluralism in the country. He said that considerable variation in the enforcement and interpretation of the Islamic laws by the courts had only intensified the pluralism. However, he said, flexibility and pluralism of Islamic law could be used for democratisation and good governance, in almost total contradiction to the stereotypical portrayal of Islamic law.

Prof Dr Michel Boivin of Centre for South Asian Studies, Paris, focused on how French scholars analysed the challenges to democracy, governance and national unity in Pakistan.

Prof Dr Vyacheslav Y Belokrenitsky of Institute of Oriental Studies, Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow, said that one of the major problems which Pakistan had to address was its agricultural environment, the inefficient use of water and the capricious power of water, resulting in devastating floods, and also the decaying of the irrigation and drainage systems on which the major crops heavily depended and rapidly growing deforestation which contributed to soil erosion.

Prof Dr Rasool Bakhsh Raees of Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS) said that silent social revolution was taking place in Pakistan. He said that Pakistan’s third democratic transition remained as divorced from democracy as had been hybrid regimes of the past and answer for that lied in the social bases of elites, party and electoral system and weakened governing capacity of the state.

Prof Dr Tatiana I Oranskaia of Germany, Prof Dr Salim Cevik of Sweden, Prof Dr Necdet Rosun of Turkey, Prof Dr Sharifal Mujahid of Karachi, Prf Dr Vladimir I Sotnikov of Moscow, Prof Dr Huma Naz Diddiqui Baqai of IBA, Karachi, Prof Dr Nazir Hussain of QIA Islamabad and Amjad Abbas Magsi of PU also presented their papers and shared their views on the topic with several references.Daily Times.

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