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People-centric governance is key to a peaceful society

People-centric governance is key to a peaceful society


ISLAMABAD: Speakers at a webinar on Wednesday said that people-centric governance should primarily focus on serving the interests of the people with an aim to uplift their social and economic situation. The webinar titled ‘Dialogue For People Centric Governance’ was organized by Asian Institute of Eco-Civilization Research and Development (AIERD), which was attended by a number of academics, diplomats, students, and senior government officials.

Governance is the art of satisfying the needs of the people and serving the interests of the people, said Shakeel Ahmad Ramay, CEO, of AIERD, while opening the webinar. 

Speaking at the event, Senate Defence Committee Chairman Syed Mushahid Hussain Syed said the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) was a very important element to understand people-centric governance. “China had advanced a Chinese solution to global development issues based on inclusivity, respect for diversity and equality and based on the concept of win-win cooperation and mutual benefit,” he said.

Mr Syed went on to say that the State Council of the Peoples Republic of China had recently issued a white paper on BRI, in which it had said that the initiative was one of the key pillars of the shared community for the future, adding that its living example was the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). He said the people centric governance in China was based on the ethos of the Communist Party of China and Chinese historical context. Under the Chinese leadership, the key bottom line has been that the party springs from the people as it has 95 million members, he said, adding that Chairman Mao Zedong had stressed on serving people in different capacities.

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Deputy Head of Mission and minister at the Chinese embassy in Islamabad Pang Chunxue said people-centric governance was important in Chinese philosophy.

China had always adhered to this philosophy which was rooted in Chinese history, she said.

Pang Chunxue said people were the foundation of a country, and that people-centered governance served as a guiding compass for China’s overall development.

She added that improvement in social security, health and education systems were vital for efficient public service. Speaking about CPEC, she said China had injected $25.4 billion in direct investment in Pakistan.

Deputy Dean, Institute of Community with Shared Future, Communication, University of China, Prof Zhang Yanqiu, in her presentation, said it was not feasible for China to copy the political systems of other countries.

She referred to China’s whole-process people’s democracy, saying that democracy was not an ornament to be used for decorations rather it was meant to solve the problems that people wanted to be solved. She said the whole-process people’s democracy served the interests of the people, and quoted Chinese President Xi Jinping as saying, “China’s people’s democracy is a type of whole-process democracy”. She said the whole-process people’s democracy, including democratic election, consultation, decision-making, management and scrutiny, operated across all of China’s governance mechanisms and that consultative democracy was a distinctive feature of China’s socialist democracy.

Prof Zhang Yanqiu said since 2016, more than one billion registered voters had elected close to 2.5 million deputies to county and township level people’s congresses.

She said China was the second largest economy in the world and had a clear view of the future by constantly thinking about the long-term.

South African High Commissioner Mthuthuzeli Madikiza said the World Bank defined good governance as the one epitomized by predictable, open and enlightened policy making. Good governance is a pivot and pillar of human prosperity but yet elusive. It swings like a pendulum, he said. He said in South Africa, the notion of good governance through representatives of the majority was new and young in practice but mature in conceptualization.

He said he could say without fear of contradiction that good governance in South Africa was routine. “It is not a matter of half empty glass but half full,” he said, adding that progress was being made in good governance. Academics and students of good governance generally agreed that good governance was discernable when it showed the following characteristics: accountability, transparency, rule of law, responsive, effective governance, consensus and orientation, the South African envoy said.

Afghan Deputy Minister of Economy Abdul Latif Nazari said Afghanistan was in an important and historic situation. He said people stood with the Islamic Emirate and did not support war mongers. The Afghan government was striving to serve its people, and therefore the ministry of economy invited all countries to play an active role in development projects in Afghanistan. He assured them that the ministry was committed to the safety of all investors and was ready to attract domestic and foreign investors.

“We expect investment in trade, agriculture and social sector as it would help reduce poverty and food insecurity in Afghanistan,” Mr Nazari said. “Sanctions have led to an increase in poverty, he said, adding that he hoped that they would be lifted and interaction between Afghanistan and the world would increase. He further added that Afghanistan had a geo-strategic, geo-politics and geo-economic position in the region.

“It has always attracted the attention of great world powers, and has been a connecting link between South and Central Asia. A stable Afghanistan can lead to economic growth and development in the region,” Mr Nazari said.

Inspector General of Police Islamabad Akbar Nasir Khan said progress in governance was a long haul.

He said history had seen many models of governance, of which democracy was one way of governing people.  He stressed on the value of service to people and counted many aspects of it. “Acceptance of the diversity of the people and their ideas was probably one of the biggest values of the democracy which we know today,” he said.

He said the purpose of democracy was to meet the needs of the people, address their concerns and improve the quality of their lives.

He, however, said public concerns kept on changing but values remained constant.

“I believe values like transparency, participation, consultation, diversity and inclusiveness should be adhered to, as they guarantee progress, human development and certified models,” he added.

In the end, AIERD Chairman Zahid Latif Khan thanked all the participants. He said there was unawareness about Chinese governance system and stressed on shedding light on it.

He said people-centric governance was the wellbeing of our entire community and revolved around the health and welfare of individuals. In our interconnected world, policies can often affect people’s lives, therefore upholding of human rights, ensuring government responsive, promoting social justice, empowering marginalized section of the society and encouraging people’s engagement in decision-making process are important factors, which we need to focus on, Mr Khan concluded.

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