CPDR, in collaboration with the British Council, organized a two days long exposure visit to the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) Provincial Assembly for the young representatives of AJK in the context of the project, “Next Generation Voices from the Valley: Our Youth: Our Future”. Fifteen young people, belonging to all three divisions of Azad Jammu and Kashmir, along with the Executive Director of CPDR, Mr. Ershad Mahmud, and members AJK Assembly, Sardar Sagheer Chughtai as well as Mr. Ahmed Raza Qadri, participated in the activity conducted from February 20- 21, 2017.
Since the KPK Assembly ranks first in Pakistan in the fields of legislation and structural reforms, the main objectives of this visit were to equip young people with an understanding and practical knowledge of the processes of legislation and the governance mechanisms. It also aimed at making the participants reflect on how the reforms approved in assembly influenced their lives. Besides, it was also dedicated to breaking stereotypes and taboos in relation to various regions and provinces of Pakistan.
The tour began with a visit to the historical KPK Assembly where a briefing session was carried out by the Secretary KPK Assembly, Mr. Attaullah who shared important information regarding the successive stages of political development in the province as well as different eras in its parliamentary history. Ms. Meeraj Humayun Khan, the Chairperson of Women Parliamentary Caucus, KPK also interacted with the young delegates and shared her insightful thoughts about the role of women in democracy.
In the next session, conducted in the afternoon, Ms. Anisa Zaib Tahirkheli, Minister for Mineral and Labor Development shared her exciting journey in politics, starting from the student unions. She also spoke at length about various bills dealing with the Right to Information, Conflict of Interest, Reforms in Police Department as well as the Ehtasaab Commission in KPK. Mr. Ershad Mahmud, Executive Director, CPDR also addressed the participants and shared important information about various aspects of youth policy and local bodies election in AJK. At the end of day one, the participants attended the KPK Assembly session for almost half an hour which became a source of rich learning experience of the activities carried out in provincial assemblies.
On the second day of the visit, the young delegates attended a presentation given by the Secretary KPK Assembly along with his IT team. They instructed the visitors about E-Governance as the KPK Assembly is the first in South Asia to successfully implement this latest technological innovation. Later in the evening, the participants had a very lively and interactive discussion session with the Speaker KPK Assembly, Mr. Asad Qaiser who did not only share his optimistic thoughts about the future of youth in AJK and KPK but also addressed a number of questions put forward by the participants. Appreciating the efforts of CPDR, the Speaker also emphasized that such activities should be continued in future and delegates should be exchanged on both sides. This, he claimed, will not only facilitate young people to enhance their knowledge but will also help in developing connectivity and strong ties between the two regions.
The visit and its corresponding activities did not only catch reasonable media coverage but also received very positive evaluations and response both from the young participants as well as the members of the KPK Assembly who participated in various sessions of the event. The young delegates from AJK found these interactions very informative and very liberating at the same time, and claimed that they would use the information and inspiration gained here in different spheres of life and also in the creation of their personal manifestos.