2015

Tackling crime: Significance of community policing stressed

ISLAMABAD: Tackling crime and social disorder requires working together of the police and local community. 

This was stated by National Police Bureau (NPB) Gender Crime Cell Director Abbas Hussain Malik while speaking at the launch of a handbook on community policing organised by the Centre for Peace and Development Initiatives (CPDI) here at a hotel on Wednesday.

Malik highlighted the significance of community policing in tackling the growing levels of crime.

The event, organised with the support of Friedrich Naumann Foundation and the European Union, was attended by a diverse audience comprising citizens from all walks of life.

Senior police officials, including Islamabad AIG Operations Asher Hameed, Azad Jammu and Kashmir AIG Faheem Ahmed Khan, Karachi DIG Crime Branch Azhar Rasheed Khan, K-P
SSP Investigation Abdul Rasheed Khan, Islamabad SP Crime Branch Zubair Sheikh and Rawalpindi DSP VIP Security Shamshad Akhtar shared their insights on the subject.

CPDI Programme Manager Bilal Saeed delivered a presentation to provide an overview of the handbook on community policing.

Saeed discussed the pros and cons of various community policing initiatives undertaken across the country, and expressed hope that police would  adopt the indigenised framework on community policing presented in the publication.

NPB Gender Crime Cell Deputy Director Mahreen Maqsood explained the various initiatives of the bureau currently under way, directed at uplifting the image of the police, and towards implementing community policing in the country.

She also expressed the possibility of collaborative efforts with the CPDI to take push for community policing in the country.

The speakers at the event were of the unanimous view that community policing must be implemented in the country, and the image of police must be corrected to strengthen police-community relations.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 26th,  2015.

Tribune

Call for citizens` participation in dists` budgeting

SAHIWAL: District governments should ensure citizens` participation in the budget making process that should be transparent and open to public input and feedback while the people must also play a pro-active role in this regard.

This was the consensus at an interactive dialogue organised by Citizen Network for Budget Accountability (CNBA) attended by local political and civil society activists at a hotel here on Thursday.

The participants lamented that though new district governments would be in place by end of January 2016, the provincial government has yet to finalise the modalities of the functioning of district budgets under the amended LG Act 2013.

They said public participation in district budget making processes must be the corner stone of annual planning as envisaged in the new law.

Mr Kousar Abbas of Centre forPeace and Development Initiatives (CPDI) conducted the dialogue as resource person.

It was said that according to Budget Rules, Government of Punjab 2006, it was mandatory for each district to share budgetcalendar with multiple stakeholders.

The process starts in September of each year with issuance of Budget Call Letter. This process ends in June with final approval of the budget.

The citizens were informed how they could follow budget calendar and put their proposal in Budget Call Letter. It is stressed each district government must make special arrangements for soliciting public opinion in the processes of budget making under new LGA 2013. They should ask about the budget making process from district government through using their right to information.

The citizens should make district governments develop their official websites so that they could get first-hand information about budget making. Every district has a senior network administrator (SNA) of fice for developing websites and making budget process open to public.

The participants developed a consensus that budget making was not a`secret` process and should be carried out through citizens` participation so that they could give their input by proposing development schemes which they consider necessary for their areas. These schemes if approved would be included in the province`s Annual Development Plan (ADP).

In the end, a unanimous resolution was passed stressing upon provincial government to get developed websites of 26 district governments of Punjab. It is learnt presently only 10 district governments Multan, Muzzafargarh, Bahawalnagar, DG Khan, Pakpattan, Sialkot, Rajanpur, Rahim Yar Khan, Chiniot and Mandi Bahauddin -have their operational official websites.

Dawn News

CPDI Demands thorough Review of Rules of Procedure of Punjab Assembly

ISLAMABAD (INP): Centre for Peace and Development Initiatives (CPDI) has demanded a through review of rules of procedures to make it in line with the democratic traditions.
The rules of procedures of Pakistani assemblies, including the Punjab Assembly, are part of Common Law originating primarily in the practice of House of Commons of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. Whereas UK assemblies have introduced some revolutionary changes in the working of the House and many commonwealth countries have followed it; Pakistani assemblies are still lagging behind in term of efficiency, accountability and transparency.
For example, an MP can expect answer to question submitted in House of Common within 2 days; his counterpart in the Punjab Assembly has to wait for 12 months and in some case for 24 months to get answer of the submitted questions. It was said by Amer Ejaz, Executive Director and Syed Kausar Abbas, Program Manager of Centre for peace and Development Initiatives (CPDI) here on Wednesday.
Amer Ejaz said that the attendance of the MPAs in the assembly session has long been the classified information. With strong Right to Information legislation in the province, it has at last become possible to get such information.
However, there are still some issues attached with the transparency.
Whereas the average attendance of the assembly, as shown on its website, is 180, the independent sources has not confirmed it. CPDI has suggested to install biometrics system at the gates of the assembly hall to take the attendance of the MPAs.
CPDI has also proposed electing one speaker and 4 Deputy Speakers at the first sitting of the assembly after the general election. Two speakers should be from government side and the other two from opposition. The deputy speakers from opposition should be ready to take the chair if speakers and deputy speakers from government side are absent. Ejaz said that Rule 24 of rules of procedure clearly says that meeting time of the assembly is 9am to 2pm but this timing is seldom observed. The average meeting time per sitting is not more than 2.5 hours. There are also serious issues of punctuality attached to our assemblies.
Kausar Abbas said that the Question hour is one of the most futile exercises of the Punjab Assembly. It is futile in the sense that a question submitted by a member can take 2 years to fetch the answer. One of the important functions of MPAs is the executive oversight; question hour is a very important tool for this oversight. CPDI has suggested that all questions submitted by MPAs should be answered at the floor of the house during the next session. This is the only way to make this exercise meaningful. The Chief Minister Question Hour could not be started in our assemblies.
Legislation in our assemblies is done in a very secret manner; whereby law department drafts a bill and it is first presented in the cabinet for approval before lying at the floor of the house. It is a classified document until it is presented in the house. Even after that there is hardly any mechanism of taking feedback of the stakeholders on it. The bill should be discussed in the public domain and it should be made mandatory for standing committees to take feedback of the stakeholders. The procedure for private member bill should also be changed and private members should also be allowed to present money bill. Maximum time limit for enacting or otherwise of a bill should also be fixed. Similarly, civil society organizations should also be allowed to table a bill in the assembly for legislation.

Approval of budget is one of the very important functions of our assemblies but it is done in post haste. For example, there are only two clear days between presenting a budget and start of general discussion in the assembly. As we know, budget exercise is done in total secrecy and members do not have any information about it before the budget speech, the two days given to members to start discussion on it are too small a period. These intervening days should be increased to seven. Similarly, the discussion on budget, cut motions and supplementary budget demands more time and focus. For this, CPDI has proposed to change the budget calendar and present the budget during the last week of April instead of June as is customary in Pakistan.

There are in total more than 60 rules that need to be amended. These proposed amendments after taking the feedback from stakeholders would be presented to Punjab Assembly this month.

The Frontier Post

CPDI Demands thorough review of rules of procedure of the Punjab Assembly

Centre for Peace and Development Initiatives (CPDI) has demanded a thorough review of the rules of procedures of the Punjab Assembly to bring them in line with the democratic traditions.

The rules of procedures of Pakistani assemblies, including the Punjab Assembly, are part of Common Law originating primarily in the practice of House of Commons of the Parliament of the United Kingdom, said CPDI Executive Director Amer Ejaz and Program Manager Syed Kausar Abbas. But while the UK assemblies have introduced some revolutionary changes in the working of the House and many commonwealth countries have followed it, Pakistani assemblies are still lagging behind in term of efficiency, accountability and transparency.

For example, an MP can expect answer to a question submitted in the House of Commons within 2 days; his counterpart in the Punjab Assembly has to wait for 12 months and in some cases for 24 months to get an answer for the submitted questions, the CPDI officials said.

Ejaz said that the attendance of the MPAs in the assembly session has long been the classified information. With strong Right to Information legislation in the province, it has at last become possible to get such information. However, some issues of transparency still remain. Whereas the average attendance of the assembly, as shown on its website, is 180, independent sources have not confirmed it, he said. CPDI has suggested to install biometrics system at the gates of the assembly hall to take the attendance of the MPAs.

CPDI has also proposed electing one speaker and 4 deputy speakers at the first sitting of the assembly after the general election. Two speakers should be from the government side and the other two from opposition. The deputy speakers from the opposition should be ready to take the chair if speakers and deputy speakers from the government side are absent.

Ejaz said that Rule 24 of rules of procedure clearly says that meeting time of the assembly is 9am to 2pm but this timing is seldom observed. The average meeting time per sitting is not more than 2.5 hours. There are also serious issues of punctuality in our assemblies.

Kausar Abbas said that the Question Hour is one of the most futile exercises of the Punjab Assembly. It is futile in the sense that a question submitted by a member can take 2 years to fetch the answer. One of the important functions of the MPAs is the executive oversight; Question Hour is a very important tool for this oversight. CPDI has suggested that all questions submitted by MPAs should be answered at the floor of the house during the next session. This is the only way to make this exercise meaningful. The chief ministers’ question hour has not even been started in our assemblies.

Legislation in our assemblies is done in a very secret manner; whereby law department drafts a bill and it is first presented in the cabinet for approval before sending it to the floor of the House.

It is a classified document until it is presented in the house.

Even after that there is hardly any mechanism of taking feedback of the stakeholders on it.

The bill should be discussed in the public domain and it should be made mandatory for standing committees to take feedback of the stakeholders. The procedure for private member bill should also be changed and private members should also be allowed to present money bills. Maximum time limit for enacting or otherwise of a bill should also be fixed. Similarly, civil society organizations should also be allowed to table a bill in the assembly for legislation.

Approval of budget is one of the very important functions of our assemblies but it is done in post haste. For example, there are only two days cleared in the schedule between presenting a budget and start of general discussion in the assembly. Budget exercise is done in total secrecy and members do not have any information about it before the budget speech. The two days given to members to start discussion on it are too small a period for any meaningful discussion. These intervening days should be increased to seven. Similarly, the discussion on budget, cut motions and supplementary budget demand more time and focus. For this, CPDI proposed to change the budget calendar and present the budget during the last week of April instead of June as is customary in Pakistan.

In total, there are more than 60 rules that need to be amended. These proposed amendments after taking feedback from the stakeholders will be presented to Punjab Assembly later this month.

Pakistan Today

Report on budget-making process at district level launched

Rawalpindi – Centre for Peace and Development Initiatives (CPDI) launched report on ‘Study of Budget Making Process at District level in Punjab’.
The objective of this study is to analyse the processes of budget-making at district level and to highlight the status of compliance with the timelines provided in the Budget Rules 2003. Empirical data has been collected from all districts through a network of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) to determine the level of public participation in the budget-making process and also to help the CSOs in identifying the gaps in the process.
Talking to media men yesterday, Syed Kausar Abbas, Programme Manager of CPDI said that budget was the most important policy document of the government. In the modern day state all policies were supposed to be formulated through active public participation. The federal and provincial budgets were hotly debated in both provincial and national assemblies and discussed in electronic/print media, however, the district budgets are approved in quiet isolation. He said that the Punjab Assembly should present budget in the month of April to ensure proper debate on the budgetary allocations in the public sectors.
Kausar Abbas said that budget-making was a continuous process. “The Budget Rules provide a step by step calendar for budget-making. The very first step is the issuance of Budget Call Letter which is to be issued in the month of September,” he said. It was noted with concern that only one third of the districts issued the BCL on the stipulated time.
The next important element was the submission of estimate of expenditures/receipts and the excess/surrender statements. The former makes the basis of next year budget and the later makes the basis of revised budget. It has been observed that only 11 districts were able to complete the exercise of revised budget in time. It was observed that most of the districts did not pass the budget of 2015-16 in time. That was to say that the budget was passed in July (and even later) in these cases, he mentioned.
He said there has been total ban on CCB schemes, thereby reducing the level of public participation in development planning. Less than half the districts were able to launch ADP schemes while the rest had zero districts ADP. This is largely due to the fact that the PFC shares have not been able to cope with the ever rising current/salary expenditures.
Only 14 districts have their own websites while the rest do not have any website. This situation also creates hindrance in sharing of information with the public thus affecting the level of public awareness and facilitation adversely.
The overall lack of public participation at the district level has created alternate modes and forums of public consultation like DCC (District Coordination Committee) wherein the elected parliamentarians play the role of sharing the public voice with the state functionaries. The government is all set to launch the new local government system. The proposed system of local government is a major shift away from the present system. The mandate of the new local bodies has been reduced to merely municipal functions.
In order to plug the gaps in district budget-making it is important to enhance the capacity of the budget wing, following the budget calendar, share information with the public through internet and other sources, encourage public participation and discourage political interference in district budgets.
Survey on budget-making process was conducted by member organisations of ‘Citizens’ Network for Budget Accountability (CNBA)’ in all 36 districts of Punjab. CNBA is a network of 25 civil society organizations working for budget reforms and accountability at district level in Punjab.

The Nation

Right to information: Call for new laws in Balochistan, Sindh

ISLAMABAD:
The governments of Balochistan and Sindh need to strengthen their Right to Information (RTI) laws, similar to the reforms brought in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) and Punjab.
These views were expressed by participants at the concluding session of a two-day seminar titled ‘Strengthening Right to Information Laws in Sindh and Balochistan’, organised by the Centre for Peace and Development Initiatives (CPDI) on Wednesday.
CPDI chief Amer Ejaz said the laws in Sindh and Balochistan have many structural faults and that these cannot be improved through amendments. Both governments should enact new laws and repeal the existing ones, Ejaz stressed.
Centre for Civic Education head Zafarullah Khan said the budget of information commissions and other regulatory bodies should be approved by Parliament as a charged expenditure.
Balochistan Ombudsman Wasay Tareen was of the view that a new RTI law for the province should be drafted on the lines of those in K-P and Punjab.
Punjab Chief Information Commissioner Mazhar Minhas said all political parties should agree to enact RTI for all federal bodies, as all parties played a role in the 18th Amendment.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 8th, 2015.

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