DEMOCRACY FESTIVAL – MULTAN

Democracy Festival with theme “Non-Discrimination: The Basic Principle of Democracy” was held at Multan  Arts Council-Multan  on  September 10, 2013 under the  auspices of Centre for Human Rights Education-Lahore in collaboration with different 20 civil society organizations across the country. The Festival was participated by approximately 1000 participants including men, women and transgender of different areas of the country.

The festival was held in connection with the International Democracy Day (15 September) as CHRE every years observed democracy week (10-15 September) and organized variety of activities in different parts of the country.

The Chief Guest of Festival was Mr. Anwar Ali Faridi-Chairman Helping Hands Trust Karachi while the Key Note Speaker was Mr. Naseer Memon-Chief Executive Director of Strengthening Participatory Organization (SPO) and Haji Saeed Nargis (Representative of Transgender Community and Candidate for Member of National Assembly (MNA) in Previous Election) was among the other guests

Following were the agenda items during the festival:-

  • Speech competition among students
  • Lecture on Democracy and Non-Discrimination
  • Democracy Award for Media Persons
  • Theatre Performances
  • Songs by a Musical Band
  • Display of stalls by different organizations

The festival began with a performance by Member of Democracy Support Council-South Punjab on a motivational song “Meray Sapno Ko Janany ka Haq Hai (Rights to Information Song)” which voices the rights of the citizens. After that a local Musical Band presented a National Song “Dil Dil Pakistan” and some other songs during the event.

In the Inaugural remarks CHRE‟s Director Mr. Samson Salamat welcomed all the participants and paid tribute to those who had made significant contribution for the protection and promotion of democracy in the country. He said that the world has benefited from the democratic system but unfortunately democratic system has always been under threat of the undemocratic forces.
But it is time for all the Pakistanis to always stand, support and speak for democracy as they have done in the recent general election 2013. Despite the huge threats by the extremist forces the voters came out of their homes to cast their votes. The participation of the people in the electoral process is a clear message against all the undemocratic forces
There is a long way to go to strengthen democratic system and application of the principles of democracy- equality treatment of the citizen‟s without any discrimination, rule of law and inclusiveness, therefore all the political forces, media, civil society needs to continue their efforts, Mr. Samson Salamat further said.

Lecture on “Linking Democracy on Non-Discrimination in the context of Pakistan”
Mr.  Naseer  Memon,  the  Chief  Executive  of  Strengthening Participatory Organization (SPO) and renowned columnist and writer participated in the Festival as the Keynote Speaker.
Mr. Naseer Memon said that we have entered in that period where the wheel of democracy is spinning, therefore now it‟s our responsibility that we should support democracy. In every society peoples have different opinions on different issues/things, and as it seems that only the democratic system has the capacity to respect the difference of opinions therefore the majority are in favor of democracy.

Non-Discrimination is the basic principle of Democracy which means that all people are treated equal irrespective of color, religion, faith, gender, cast etc. But in Pakistan, situation is different as we have democracy along with the culture of discrimination because the state and non-state actors are trying to make the country as one nation and are denying diversity and diminishing the identity of people. This is not democracy that one culture should be imposed on others cultures; democracy means respect of all the cultures and giving them equal importance. Discrimination on the basis of identity is wrong, Mr. Memon added.

The speaker expressed that the speech of Founder of Pakistan Mr. Jinnah delivered on 11 August 1947 is a roadmap in which he talked about non-discrimination and set the pattern that all the citizens of Pakistan should be treated equal without any discrimination, but unfortunately the speech has been wiped out from curriculum and history of Pakistan.

Mr. Naseer expressed that State is like a mother and citizens are kids, so when state divided their citizens into majority and minority groups then state it-self is promoting non-discrimination among the citizens which is wrong practice in our country.

Pakistan is not created through an ordinance, it‟s the joint effort of all of us and we all are responsible for its development. The constitution of Pakistan has dual policy regarding citizen equality, at one side constitution stated that all citizen are equal and on the other side it‟s not give the right to non-Muslim to become President and Prime Minister.

Mr. Memon further shared that the true spirit of democracy is that  all citizen should be treated equal without  any discrimination; and state should respect every culture, human identity, religion and beliefs.

Speech competition among students
Festival “Speech Competition” was held among the students, which  was  participated  by  seven  students  of  different educational institutions. The winner of the completion was awarded with a certificate and winning shield.

Name of Contestant

Class and Institute

Position

Ms. Sahar Anwer

MSC in CS-Department of I.T Islamia University
Bahawalpur

Winner

Mr. Aneeq Zahid

Govt. Technical High School Bahawalpur

Winner

Ms. Nazish Kanwal

Govt. Sadiq Girls College and University Bahawalpur

Runner-up

Mr. Adnan Akram

BBA (Hons) University of Education Lahore Multan
Campus

Runner-up

Mr. Babar Shahall

FSC-City College Multan

Runner-Up

Democracy Award for Media Persons
In this Festival CHRE honored the “Democracy and Human Rights” Award to seven Media Persons of South Punjab to recognized  their  contribution  for  human  rights  and democracy in Pakistan.

  • Ms. Imrana Komal, Daily Express Newspaper-Multan
  • Mr. Shakeel Ahmed, Daily Dawn Newspaper-Multan
  • Mr. Rana Irfan ul Islam, Daily Pakistan Newspaper-Multan
  • Ms. Shireen Rana, Daily Jang Newspaper-Multan
  • Mr. Shahid Mehmood Mirza, Express News-Vehari
  • Mr. Mazhar Javeed, Daily Khabarain Newspaper-Multan
  • Mr. Zahoor Darija, Jhok Magazine-Multan

 

Theater Performance
Renowned  following  social  theatres  of  South  Punjab performed theatres on the theme of democracy festival

  • Sojhla Theatre,
  • Aika Theater,
  • Art Land Theatre Academy and Muzaffargarh

The   guest   of   honor   of   this   festival   Haji   Saeed   Nargis (Representative of Transgender Community) said that our pray is that Democracy should strengthen in the Pakistan. Transgender are Pakistani and are contributing to make the country better. This festival is good event and I wish that people should organize this  kind of events where all people should feel equal and learn.

View of people about the Festival
Ms. Zahida Qureshi Chairperson Society for Special Persons said that the democracy festival was great event in which different organizations were given chance to participate. I feel honored that my organization fully participated as collaborator as it was great opportunity for us to realize and gave message to people that persons with disabilities have potential to do various things for this country and society. As person with disability, I am excited to see the acknowledgment of our rights that we are not excluded from this society.

Mr. Shahid Mehmood Mirza, a journalist said that Democracy Festival is the first mega event in South Punjab for democracy and is a hope for this region because in this region mostly there is feudalism and bureaucracy system in the name of democracy and it is considered a sin, so in this situation this festival will help to develop understanding of public regarding democracy and shall sensitize the public to play their active role for democracy.

Mr. Shahzaman Youhana Executive Secretary of Justice and Peace Commission-Multan viewed that this mega event initiative taken by CHRE to mobilize the people on the importance of democratic process and attitude for the development of society and country will really help to increase the political participation of masses and to strengthen the democracy and promote democratic value.

Mr. Hyacinth Peter Project Officer SPARC-Multan expressed that its wonderful effort by CHRE, we normally talks about democracy in dictatorship period but talking about democracy in democratic period is a positive move which gives the message to anti-democratic groups that citizens of Pakistan are in-Favor of democracy. This was first and historical step from specifically civil society groups in South Punjab to organize such kind of mega event to support democracy so I appreciate the entire efforts of CHRE and other collaborators.

Ms. Aysaha Abdullah a health worker said that it is a wonderful event which gives the message that we should all work together for our country. I request to State that it should adopt such polices which reduce the culture of discrimination.

Ms. Amna Bibi said a teacher said that the overall program was good but theaters presented in this festival were great which gave the message that all human beings are equal and have equal rights and democracy is best system which can provide rights to citizen.

Mr. Sabar Raheel a social worker said that since creation of Pakistan the rights of people are violated at every stage because of regime game among democracy and dictatorship. After a long struggle now we have democracy in the country which needs support of all citizen for its strengthening and this kind of democracy event is very necessary to develop the understanding of people regarding democratic development.

Role of the Collaborators
All collaborators of this festival played their active role for this festival but particularly CHRE‟s Alumni and Member of the Democracy Support Council had done very hard work to make this festival successful. They worked day and night and motivated the people for their active participation in that event to give message that we are in favor of democracy.

Collaborators

  • Damaan Women Development Foundation-Rajanpur
  • Justice and Peace Commission- Multan
  • Voice of New Generation-Punjab
  • Women Development Organization-Multan
  • Democracy Support Council-South Punjab
  • Humanity Support Foundation-Multan
  • The Provisional Organization-Vehari
  • Peace and Development Foundation-Multan
  • SPARC-Multan
  • Sojhala for Social Change-Multan
  • Insan Dost Organization-Multan
  • Helping Hands Trust-Karachi
  • Activists-Pakistan
  • Rabta Pakistan-Multan
  • Taraqee Theater for Social Change-Lahore
  • Strengthening Participatory organization(SPO)-Multan
  • Society for Special Person
  • Organization for Peace and Development-Multan
  • Eventure‟s Foundation-Punjab
  • Kinza Foundation-Multan

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