Author Archives: Hammad Siddiqui

Holding Government Accountable in Pakistan

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For the first time since its independence in 1947, Pakistan saw its first ever peaceful transition from one democratically elected government to another in 2013.  While this was a remarkable success for Pakistani democracy, the country still lacked a process for holding civilian governments accountable for their electoral promises.

Working with economic think tank Policy Research Institute of Market Economy (PRIME), CIPE Pakistan initiated a project to monitor key economic promises made by the current government in its pre-election manifesto.

Through a consultative process, PRIME developed a scorecard to gauge the progress made by the government in the areas of economic revival, energy security, and social protection, focusing on 26 of the goals mentioned in the winning Pakistan Muslim League’s pre-election manifesto. Scores are based on a possible 10 points in each category, with the most thorough implementation earning the most points.

The first Scorecard report released on January 27 shows that the average score for the economic revival is 3.17 out of 10, energy security scored 4.16, and social protection scored 6. This report covered the period between June 2013-December 2013.

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6th All-Pakistan Chamber Presidents’ Conference Brings Business Community Together

Energy imports are a key issue for Pakistan's business community. (Photo: The Tribune)

Energy imports are a key issue for Pakistan’s business community. (Photo: The Tribune)

CIPE partner Rawalpindi Chamber of Commerce and Industry organized its first All-Pakistan Chamber Presidents’ Conference in 2009. Since then, the annual conference has become an important venue for bringing the business community from across Pakistan together to discuss pressing economic issues and propose reforms to provide level playing field for businesses to grow.

This year, the conference focused on making the newly-elected democratic government accountable for its promises. The current government is considered pro-business, and has made a number of promises in their manifesto to undertake business-friendly policy reform. Now the business community needs to monitor the progress made by the government in initiating the reform process and the implementation of these reforms. To this end, the Policy Research Institute of Market Economy (PRIME), with the help of CIPE, has started a Manifesto Monitoring Project to track how well the government is keeping its promises.

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Social Media Supports Democracy in Pakistan

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The last five years of democratic government helped Pakistani citizens to understand the benefits of living in a democratic society. One of those benefits is the ability to speak up and sharing your point of view. Social media is certainly helping Pakistani citizens to raise their voices.

Historically, media in general and social media in particular has been gagged in Pakistan by successive governments. On October 3, 2013, the most recent attempt was made by Sindh’s provincial government when it talked about banning social media platforms such as Viber, What’sUp and Skype in the province on the pretext of terrorists using these platforms for their activities.

Civil society organizations including Pakistan Software Houses Association for IT and IT Related Services (P@SHA) together with social media users started campaign to protect their rights to access these platforms. Twitterraties  and Facebook users were at the forefront in condemning this move.

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Celebrating Global Entrepreneurship Week in Pakistan

gewpk (3)Until 2011, Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW) was not a known term in Pakistan. In 2011, the Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE) initiated  events engaging university students and teachers in debates during GEW. To provide wider outreach, these events were organized in cooperation with regional chambers of commerce.

This year CIPE also wrote to over 70 universities and 140 business associations around Pakistan and provided information about GEW and how they can be part of this global celebration of entrepreneurship. These efforts have resulted in more independently-held events in the country.

While speaking at a joint event organized by the Islamabad Chamber of Commerce, CIPE, and GEW in Islamabad,  Country Representative for GEW Kahif M. Khan said that:

“Celebrating Global Entrepreneurship Week in Pakistan is a new phenomenon. I appreciate the role of CIPE in starting GEW activities three years ago. This now is becoming a movement. Until last year, a lot of activities were donor funded. The good news is that this year a number of organizations celebrated GEW in Pakistan through their own resources.”

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Pakistan’s Persistent Gender Gap

Low primary and secondary enrollment for girls threatens Pakistan's economic future. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

Low primary and secondary enrollment for girls threatens Pakistan’s economic future. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

The World Economic Forum has once again put Pakistan at the bottom of its index ranking “gender gaps” in economics, politics, education, and health. Last year, Pakistan ranked 132 out of 134 countries, down from 127 the year before. This year there is no change in the overall ranking, however the report suggests that the state of gender-based biases in Pakistan remains abominable — and worse, stagnant.

While women make up over 51 of the population in Pakistan, only 3 percent of women participate actively in the economy. Thanks to CIPE efforts in 2006, Pakistani women now have the right to form business associations, and as a result there are eight registered women business associations in the country. Additionally, every chamber in Pakistan now has to elect two women members to its board. But gender equality is still a major issue in the country. The recent Gender Gap Report also mentions that while the gap between men and women has narrowed slightly in most countries during the past year, Pakistan still ranks the lowest in Asia and the Pacific region.

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Youth and the Social Media Landscape in Pakistan

Social Media

By Hammad Siddiqui and Emad Sohail

The youth of Pakistan, despite a multitude of problems like unemployment, poverty,social taboos, drugs, and crime, have always been in the forefront of movements for political change — as we saw in yesterday’s #YouthChange Twitter chats.

Young people played a key role in the 2013 elections, for example. According to the Election Commission of Pakistan a significant proportion of this year’s electorate is made up of people under the age of 35. Nearly half of the 84 million registered voters — 48 per cent — are aged between 18 and 35, while 20 per cent, or nearly 17 million voters, are under the age of 26.

Social media is one of the reasons for such strong youth participation in this year’s election, despite the fact that Pakistanis of all ages were barred from accessing YouTube. The aggressive engagement of youth on social media not only influenced political parties and hardcore political journalists to join social media platforms, but also drove them to mold their political agenda in this year’s elections campaign because of the youth voice for change.

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Entrepreneurship Development in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa

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“We should learn from Bangladesh model where banks are forced to extend certain percentage of loans to women entrepreneurs. This easier access to finance has helped Bangladeshi women to become economically strong. Banks in Pakistan need to develop products focusing women businesses and they should begin financial literacy programmers to educate women entrepreneurs about business procedures and financial management.” – Peshawar Women Chamber of Commerce & Industry

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) is Pakistan’s most terrorism affected province. The province is also known for a culture restricting women from participating in economic activities. Due to cultural barriers and terrorism, opportunities for women in KP province are limited; so much so, that in a number of KP districts, women are barred from casting their votes in the general elections.

Since 2006, CIPE Pakistan has been working with its partner Peshawar Women Chamber of Commerce & Industry to help them create a network of women entrepreneurs in Peshawar. The chamber started with only six members, and now has grown to over 150 active members.

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