“Building Bridges of Peace”- Hurricane Katrina Fundraiser
Notes For statement by Hon. David Kilgour
M.P. Edmonton-Mill Woods-Beaumont
Sultan Banquet Hall, Mill Woods
18 September, 05
Ladies & Gentlemen,
Our city and province are fortunate to have a thriving Pakistani community that makes an important event like this possible.
This community has added greatly to the variety and richness of life in Edmonton.
The generosity of the Palestinian community today extends to those who lost so much since Hurricane KATRINA struck the southern United States.
As you all know, KATRINA was termed “the worst natural disaster in American history”, causing devastation as serious as any war. It is a tragedy of historic proportions.
Canadians are hopefully America’s closest friends at a time like this – as family. As such, we must pull together them in the crisis.
On Pakistan, permit me to say a few words, having returned today from a conference on Asian Democracy in Taipei.
There were a number of participants from Pakistan and many from about 33 countries in all.
During the conference was launched the Asia Democratic Index 2005 by ARDA, the Alliance for Reforms and Democracy in Asia, which had teams of locally politically aware-not partisans-do studies on 16 Asian countries, including Pakistan. The teams looked at a number issues, in each country studied, including:
- civil rights
- governance & corruption
- media and
- rule of law
Among the 16 nations surveyed, Japan came out as the most democratic and Burma the least. Pakistan ranked 11th, but ahead of Cambodia, Malaysia, Nepal, Singapore and Burma.
Among the recommendations by the Pakistani teams looking at Pakistan were the following:
(1) Elected governments must be allowed to complete their constitutionally-mandated terms in office. None of those elected in the 88-99 period were allowed to complete their terms.
(2) Land reforms- As you know, big landlords continue to dominate both the political organizations and the people of Pakistan.
(3) Electoral reform – a voting system people can trust is badly needed.
(4) Political parties are mostly personal fiefdoms of the land elite, capitalists or religious leaders.
(5) Military reforms – The military in Pakistan continues to have immense powers, which must be removed, indicating its influence over the political process.
(6) Basic Freedoms – The state must withdraw all of its curbs - implicit and explicit- on freedom of expression, speech, press associations, assembly and religions.
(7) Minorities – Women and minorities, who form half the population, need to be empowered.
(8) Judiciary – Public distrust of the courts is creating distrust of the state. Judges must be independent, speedy, fair and thoughtful.
(9) Parliamentary Democracy- All amendments to the 1973 constitution, which reduced the parliamentary role in Pakistan, must be removed.
(10)Public Accountability - There is too little accountability of soldiers, judges, media leaders and public figures.
I hope this is useful.