Asia-wide transparency in governance

NANNING: Pakistan People’s Party Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari called upon political parties in Asian countries to enforce highest standards of transparency and accountability in government and institutions to ensure that people remain invested in the political process.

Addressing the International Conference of Asian Political Parties (ICAPP), Bilawal said Asia was expected to contribute more than half of the world’s economic output, restoring the world’s largest continent to the position of economic dominance it had held 300 years ago.

“We may be witnessing the birth of a new world order,” he said and pointed that everyone was calling the 21st century the “Asian Century”. Bilawal is heading a five-member delegation comprising KP Governor Barrister Masood Kausar, PPP General Secretary Senator Jahangir Badar, PPPP MNA and General Secretary Raja Pervaiz Ashraf, and Special Assistant to the Chairman PPP Hashaam Riaz Sheikh. Pakistan’s Ambassador to China Masood Khan was also present at the conference.

The conference is being attended by about 150 delegates representing 53 political parties from 26 countries of Asia including Turkey, Japan, Iran, Uzbekistan, South Korea, India, Bangladesh, Laos, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Singapore, Cambodia, Malaysia and Indonesia. The PPP chairman said ICAPP as a gathering of Asia’s top political leadership is an exceedingly important forum in the 21st Century, which in itself is a tribute to the foresight and vision of the organisation’s founding leaders.

He said the Asian Declaration issued at the end of the first ICAPP in Manila 11-year ago is to read a manifesto for today. “That document touches on all the major issues of our times and its call for Asian countries to strengthen economic cooperation, guard against future financial crises and establish an Asian Monetary Fund (AMF) resonates more deeply today than they did even in 2000,” he added.

“These words should give us pause as Asia teeters on the brink of a second global recession that is not of its making – barely three years after it weathered the first,” Bilawal said. He urged for reflection on the first ICAPP’s appeal to Asian governments to do more to address poverty and economic inequalities. He said economic development should be for the people, not at the expense of the people.

“We in Pakistan have initiated the Benazir Income Support Programme, which serves the dual purpose of poverty alleviation and women’s emancipation. Over 80 billion rupees have been distributed to four million women living in poverty,” he said. The PPP chairperson said there is something prophetic about the declaration’s appeal to Asian countries to seek the peaceful resolution of regional disputes and act in unison against trans-national crimes.

He said force alone will not defeat terrorism and extremism – unless it is force tempered with political engagement and economic development. Referring to the heavy rains and flooding in Sindh and Balochistan in which millions have been displaced, placing an enormous burden on the people, he said, “We are a resilient nation and we will fully recover.”

“It is worrying that some unable to reach the necessary compromise to address their own internal structural economic flaws instead choose to demonise emerging Asian economic superpowers,” Bilawal added. This dangerous short sightedness could lead to paranoid overreactions with catastrophic consequences, he said, adding, “I dread the return to the divided world, a world of competing spheres of influence, a world of cold wards, a world of hot wars, a world of cyber wars and a world of economic wars. We want a united world of equals not a divided world of rivals.”

Bilwal expressed happiness that the conference has afforded him an opportunity to visit China during the ‘Pakistan-China Friendship Year’. app