5TH Participatory Course on Human Rights and Democracy

5th Participatory Course on Democracy and Human Rights (PCDHR) successfully completed at Dar-ul-Mussarat Training Institute- Lahore on February10 to 15, 2015. 22 participants of diverse background including Human Rights Defenders, university students, political activists, media persons, and persons with disabilities, Trans-genders of different faiths and religions of different areas of Punjab, Sindh, Baluchistan and Khyber Pakhtoon Khwa completed their Course.

PCDHR is an in-depth learning program which puts a strong emphasis on concept clarity, skill development, volunteerism and transfer of learning. Therefore all the participants are required to develop an “Individual Plan” to ensure that the learning from this course should be put into practice and the communities should ultimately get benefited.

Resource Persons, Speakers and Facilitators:

  • Samson Salamat (Director, Center for Human Rights Education)
  • Salman Abid (Regional Director, Strengthening Participatory Organization)
  • Dr. Mehdi Hassan (Dean of School of Media and Communication  Beaconhouse National University Lahore)
  • Zafarullah Khan  (Executive Director, Centre for Civic Education Pakistan)
  • Aysha Rao (Monitoring and Evaluation Officer, Strengthening Participatory Organization



Opening Ceremony:
Opening Ceremony of PCDHR began with a welcome note by Samson Salamat, Director CHRE who also gave brief introduction of PCDHR.
The participants gave their remarks regarding Impact of PCDHR on their personal and professional lives and shared briefly about the implementation of their Individual Plan and its impact on society.
At this occasion several social, political and other personalities were present including Mr. Salman Abid, Ms. Amna Ulfat, Ms. Aima Mehmood, Mr. Abullah Malik, Ms. Raazia Naqvi who shared their views and appreciated efforts of CHRE.
This ceremony ended with a motivational song with a theme of respect of humanity and non-discrimination

Implementation of Individual Plans 
Each participant who made to the 2nd Module presented a presentation on the implementation of his/ her Individual Plan.
The Individual Plan is a set of awarenss raising and advocacy initiatives which every participants design at the end of First Module of PCDHR to put learnings into practice.  
This is very encouraging that each participant had implemented the Plan and voluntarily contributed towards the struggle for human rights and democracy in the country.
PCHDR SESSION: Trainees become Facilitators
For the 2nd Module of PCDHR the participants were assigned topics which they were supposed to facilitate during the 2nd Module. This exercise meant to give a chance to the participants to enhance their skills for facilitation and learn how to prepare and present a presentation.
The participants gave presentations on the following topics:

  • Evaluation (history) of Human Rights
  • Introduction of the United Nation Human Rights System:
  • Main Features the International Human Rights Instruments (ICCPR, ICESCR,     CERD, CEDAW, CAT, CRC etc.)
  • Democracy and its Principals
  • Misconception about Democracy and how to deal these Misconceptions:
  • Structure of Federal state Roles and Responsibilities of the different State institutions in Federal System:

The participants used different participatory techniques during their presentations and at the end of each presentation Mr. Samson Salamt and Mr. Mitha Ram gave their critical feedback on the presentations and also gave suggestions for improvement. 
PCDHR SESSION: Trainees Become Resource Persons
The participants of PCDHR acted as Resource Persons and took part as panelists in the discussions on the following topics:
Promoting and Protecting Human Rights in Pakistan: Challenges and Role of different Stake Holders”

  • Role of the State
  • Role of Civil Society
  • Role of Media:
  • Role of Public

Pakistani Politics and the Rights of Marginalized Communities: Issues and  Concerns”

  • Rights of Religious Minorities:
  • Rights of Women
  • Rights of Transgender
  •  Provincial Rights
  • Rights of Children

“Pakistan Relationship with its Neighboring Country, Issues and way forwards”
The Panel Discussions were moderated by Mr. Samson Salamat, and Mr. Mitha Ram, the Director and Program Manager of Centre for Human Rights Education- Pakistan. 
PCDHR SESSION“Democracy in Pakistan; Failure, Success and Way Forward”
Mr. Salman Abid, renowned columnist, writer and Regional Director of Strengthening Participatory Organization delivered a lectur on “Democracy in Pakistan: Failures, Successes and Way Forward”.
While discussing the topic Mr. Saman Abid  said that Democracy cannot be considered an ideal system of governance but still it is the best as it is the only system of governance which accepts the supremacy of People.
Political parties are one of the main stake-holders in democracy which struggle a lot to establish themselves e.g. Aam Aadmi Party (India) and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf. Active involvement of marginalized communities such as women, transgenders and youth in Politics is very important in the  democratic process and this scenario has begun to change due to democracy. 
Mr. Salman Abid mentioned that one of the reasons of the weak democracy in Pakistan is that the institutions are weak and individuals are strong. Thefore we should now strive for the strong institutions because democracy is not only the name of conducting elections, rather has a complete set of other values which  need to be followed and respected.

PCDHR SESSION: “Political and Historical Over view of Pakistan”
Renowned historian, professor of journalism and human rights defender Dr. Mehdi Hassan delivered a lecture on the “Political and Historical overview of Pakistan” and unveiled the hidden facts in the history of sub-continent which are not reported in the text books.

Dr. Mehdi Hassan totally rejected the misconception that Pakistan was meant to be a theocratic state on the basis of so-called “Two Nation Theory” by raising question that Muslims and Hindus of Sub-Continent had a history of living together peacefully.

Dr. Mehdi Hassan quoted the speeches of Quiad-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah clearly defined Pakistan as Secular State and menthioned that Hindus and Ahmadis were given prominent minsities in the first cabint of Pakistan. 

While discussing “Subsequent Political Turmoil after Independence: ethnic and sectarian strife and role of States” history of different province and their contribution toward independence Movement was discussed and the injustice done with these Province after partition was also elaborated.

Dr. Mehdi Hassan viewed that Pakistan never experienced true democracy because democracy guarantees equal opportunities to all but for this equal provincial development is also required.

He criticized Pakistani politics as it is still following rule of two families in Politics and government, lacking internal democracy and decentralization in these parties. In short, History of Pakistani Politics and Political parties move around their personal interests, and least concern about public benefits and wellbeing.


PCDHR Session:
“Pakistan’s current socio-political situation: Role of Civil Society Challenges (Internal and External) and Strategies to move forward”
Mr. Zafarullah Khan, Executive Director, of Centre for Civic Education- Pakistan was the resource person of the session which discussed the Pakistan’s current socio-political situation: Role of Civil Society and Challenges (Internal and External) and Strategies to move forward”

While discussing the current situation of Pakistan, the brief history of Pakistan was recounted and unveiled the facts those are responsible for present crises including the delay in the formation of the constitution of Pakistan, a social contract between public and the state.
He further moved on with the fact that a heavy majority of the Pakistan is totally unaware of their rights our Constitution is providing.
Pakistan is now in a state of permanent conflict and has poor relationship with its neighboring countries and its also facing serious internal threats. Rights violation is on its peak either these are rights of general public, minorities or provinces.
While talking about the way-forward Mr. Zafar ullah Khan said that without population proper senses it is impossible to make policies and it is a matter of concern that our government is reluctant toward this important matter and working on assumptions and hypothesis.  Civil  society needs to play its role seriously by responding on weak policies and sensitizing public by raising awareness among general public at grass root level. It should create pressure on government by acting as effective watch dog. To bring Pakistan out of Extremism there is a serious need to revise syllabus. Civil society should draw governments attention towards this and pressurize it to work on it on urgent bases.

PCDHR SESSION: Proposal Writing
Proposal Writing Session was facilitated by Aysha Rao,Monitoring and Evaluation Officer of Strengthening Participatory Organization- Lahore. Ayesha Rao’s covered the following:

  • Introduction to Basics of Proposal Development
  • Project Development Cycle
  • Proposal Writing vs Concept Note
  • Concept Note
  • Project Proposal
  • Review RFP and Organization Assessment
  • What is Need statement and its checklist
  • Direct and Indirect Beneficiaries
  • Defining Project goal, objectives, activities
  • Implementation Strategy
  • Work Plan
  • Monitoring and & Evaluation plan
  • Budget
  • Sustainability
  • Why proposals are rejected
  • What do Donors want

Aysha Rao explained all of the above mentioned topics in very comprehensive way and used various interactive techniques to make it easy and understandable for trainees.

After the input, the participants were divided into groups and asjed to write a project briefly. When they presented their proposal all of the trainees were asked to note down whatever was missing in each written project and weaknesses were discusses. This all exercise made it very interactive and fruitful.

Development of Individual Plan
Individual plan was made with mutual discussion and came up with following planning: It was mutually decided that we want people to respect others religion.
Alumni  shall do following activities:

  • Identify their team by searching likeminded team of five
  • Study the PCHDR reading manual thoroughly
  • Share their activities on regular bases on Facebook and report to CHRE also.
  • Each of the participant will write an article on topics related to human rights, democracy, peace and get it print in any newspaper or magazine 
  • Write a poem on any social Issue
  • SMS Campaign on Peace and Tolerance they can start their own or through CHRE SMS campaign.
  • Formation of KPK Aman Council was discussed.

Certificate Distribution Ceremony:
Certificate Distribution Ceremony was held on 15th February at Dar-ul-Mussarat. Mr. Shaukat Ashfaq, the Resident Edtitor of Daily Pakistan- Multan, Mr. Salman Abid, Regional Head of SPO- Lahore, and Mr. Tariq Manzoor of Private Schools Association were the guest of honours who disctributed the certificates among the Alumni.
Comments of the Participants:
Sania Rasheed:
PCDHR is like a new birth and new life for me. It created a madness for activism in me. I never thought for people in a way as I am thinking now. Many ideas about life have changed after PCDHR. It induced me to respect diversity. Now I regard diversity in Pakistan as a bucket of flowers increasing beauty.
Aroon Kumar:
It was political, social, cultural diversified ethnic and religious discourse  I have experienced here. Here we have learnt to speak out, become vocal and respect others. This course has built our capacity in report writing and proposal writing. It has given us new confidence. I thank all of CHRE Team.
Adeel Neakakhtar:
I have learnt a lot about our and others rights. Beside it has arouse spirit in me to work for the marginalized communities in society. I have found each and every moment I spent here informative. As a panelist I gain confidence to speak before people.
Zamzam Maria:
It’s not a course for me. It’s a process of transformation. It has given me a vision and a wayforward which I will surely keep in my mind. This was very informative course clarify my several concepts. Now I am feeling urge to learn more and more.