The interconnectivity between today’s international, regional and domestic issues and challenges has created a need for interdependence and greater global cooperation to address common issues like ensuring economic stability and development, maintaining security and ensuring environmental sustainability. Be it the spectre of transnational terrorism threatening peace, security and progress; socio-economic ramifications of climate change; Energy deficit dampening our developmental aspirations; or eradication of poverty, the issues are more contagious than endemic and isolated. Likewise, the success of the development priorities and targets set under the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals is interdependent on coordinating a prompt response from both governmental and parliamentary levels.
However, the intergovernmental institutions the world has traditionally relied on to facilitate cooperation are increasingly gridlocked, resulting in a global ‘governance gap’. In this regard, the role of parliament, particularly parliamentarians, has gone global, becoming central to international governance and diplomacy matrices. By linking local with the global, parliamentarians are better poised to influence and coordinate both international as well as national action towards realizing shared objectives of peace, prosperity and conflict resolution through cooperation and dialogue. However, while a number of multilateral inter-parliamentary forums exist, there is hardly any forum that capitalizes and focuses upon individual strengthens and potential of individual parliamentarians to address key global and regional issues that cut across geographical divides, impacting people all over the globe.
Cognizant of these realities, I, since assuming the office of Chairman Senate last year, have consciously and strategically endeavoured to enhance Pakistan Senate’s diplomatic and international outreach using proactive parliamentary diplomacy. The major breakthrough in this regard came when we hosted meetings of Asian Parliamentary Assembly’s Standing Committee on Political Affairs and Special Committee on Creation of Asia Parliament in Gwadar from 28-30 October, 2018. This grand transnational gathering joined by parliamentary delegations from all over Asia, Europe, Africa and also Secretary General of IPU proved to be a diplomatic, strategic and geo-political game changer for the country. Pakistan Senate will also be reassuming the portfolio of APA’s Presidency this year to continue such endeavours.
Taking the same vision forward, I have now envisioned a grand forum of individual parliamentarians from across the globe, named International Parliamentarians’ Congress (IPC), to be set up by Pakistan Senate in order to establish a political discourse across continents and regions based upon cooperation, understanding and mutual respect.
The forum, having its permanent headquarters in Islamabad, is conceived to bring together parliamentarians of different countries not just as regional or national representatives, but more so as global parliamentarians and representatives of the whole humanity, committed to strategizing and implementing ideas of peace, prosperity and progress through dialogue and sharing of parliamentary experiences.
IPC is envisioned to be strategically driven by its core guiding principles of shared responsibility, collective action to protect and promote fundamental human rights, gender equality, rule of law, socio-economic progress and better standards of life for all. Though seminars and conferences, the forum will work to build multi-stakeholder global partnerships and synergies across key areas of trade, economy and industry.
By striving to empower, enable and connect member parliaments to think and act global, the Congress will help break geographical and political barriers to resolving common problems requiring concerted action and political unanimity. The forum will also seek to mainstream individual parliamentarians into directly and indirectly influencing global action in matters that invariably impact the very people they represent. In the same spirit, by affording an interactive and deliberative platform to incumbent parliamentarians, the IPC, in turn, will also provide an avenue to the people all over to be heard and represented internationally.
With inclusivity and equality as its guiding principles, the Congress aims to facilitate members’ parliaments to discuss and conceive innovative solutions to common issues as well as geo-political, geo-strategic and socio-economic challenges.
It is my firm belief that a strong and dynamic parliament offers the best guarantee to ensure good governance and realize the 2030 Global sustainable development agenda. Therefore, parliamentary strengthening and capacity building is one of the prime objectives of the IPC. In this regard, the Congress will endeavor to establish cooperation and synergy to strengthen the institution of parliament through capacity building and sharing of knowledge.
Keeping in view the global and regional challenges on peace, security and developmental fronts, the journey ahead may be long, arduous and hard. But then, it is often the most difficult paths that lead to the most beautiful destinations. I am confident that with concerted, and, more importantly, sustained efforts at IPC’s platform we can achieve all this and more by making this world more peaceful, connected and inclusive for present and future generations.