Devolution through the local government ordinance 2001 has resulted in empowered local Government and administration headed by elected Nazims, naib nazims, general councilors, labour councilors, woman councilors and minority councilors with the civil service reporting to those elected officials. Aaghaz Foundation fully supported to new system in Pakistan because it was introduced first time in Pakistan history, that many peasant workers and labour councilors are elected and many grassroot level women participated in local Government because they are 51% of our population. In past no chance was given to the women in big level in political setup. Similarly first time in Pakistan minority representative are elected. So Aaghaz Foundation is supported and facilitates in every level to advocate and awarded them about their responsibilities to take part in the political scenario. Aaghaz foundation has conducted different training programmes to capacity building Councilors, Nazims, by indicating and exploring their roles and responsibilities for the community betterment.

Strengthening of CCBs

Devolution of power to the grass root level was of the governance in 1999. The Local Government Ordinance (LGO) 2001 introduced the concept of empowerment and bottom up approach to development. To achieve the objective of community empowerment and ensure citizen participation, the LGO 2001 stipulates that Citizen Community Board (CCBs) may be formed. Any 25 non-elected citizens may for carrying out development or welfare activities set up a CCB at the local level. Since 2005, Aaghaz Foundation is under district level campaign to facilitate CCB formation in the country. Aaghaz Foundation aims to include the participation of civil society to contribute towards community empowerment and District Press Clubs in the regard can play an essential role.

Public Forums on Electoral Reforms at 3 districts

Aaghaz Foundation conduct 3 public forums at Faisalabad .Jhang and chiniot .The main12434150_1650366281919891_1047695128_n_500x667 Purpose of Events
• To educate and sensitize the general public for the need of electoral reforms
• Highlighting the issues of common citizen regarding National Identity cards (NICs) application and registration process
• To discuss the complete Procedure of applying for a Identity card in NADRA along with voter registration in Election commission of Pakistan
• To try to solve the issues of voters and youngsters who apply for national identity cards (NICs) with the help of NADRA Officials and district Election Commissioner of Pakistan (ECP Office) bearers.
• To Take Suggestions and Recommendation from public and other stakeholders for better electoral reforms
2. Proceedings of event
It’s a prime component to organize public forums in Citizen Voice Project entitled “Advocacy Campaign for Electoral Reforms”. So with the light of this aspects these forums were organized at all the three districts assigned to Aaghaz Foundation as jurisdiction area of Project. it was organized at Thatha Kram Shah in Chiniot on 12th December , Gulistan colony in Faisalabad on 11th December & 8-Ghagah Shorkot in Jhang on 21st December 2015 by the respective district coordinators.
All the public forums started with reciting of Holy Quran as cultural and religious trend followed by the formally introduction of project and Aaghaz foundation including its team in all the districts. All the public & guests welcomed & on boarded while each district coordinator highlighted project’s importance and need with current election system. They also briefly discussed about the major components of project which were Youth Volunteers and District Electoral Reforms Groups (DERGs) envisaged at each district. They also talked about the role of Youth Volunteers & DERGs Members in electoral reforms process and brief the audience about its Objectives. Project Coordinator Mr.Wasif Bashir also participated in Jhang & Faisalabad Public Forums and shared the overall project objectives, Components and project activities in detail after a short introduction of Aaghaz Foundation, its goals, Achievements and major working areas. Attendance sheets were circulated and IEC Material i-e Brushers containing recommendation of FAFEN distributed to every participant.
It was also briefed to participants about the citizen’s voice project and its different aspects including major Community Mobilization tools (Advocacy), area of work, stakeholders of electoral system, electoral reforms and duration of project. In all the forums majority of participants also share their knowledge about electoral reforms, their issues regarding voter list, polling stations, delimitation of area & election procedure. Participants of the public forums really took their interest in election process and information which provided during discussions sessions.
Government Line Departments officials especially from Election Commission of Pakistan, NADRA were also invited to participate in these forums & requested to answer the questions raised by local community participants about the their issues regarding Votes & NIC. The official of NADRA shared the steps for registration of NIC CARD, the documents require for that and whole procedure step by step in detail for the convenient of local communities. People also shared & discussed the problems faced by them about procedure of ID Cards registration. They discussed that the existing system of NADRA is too complicated and general public suffer a lot for this. They also highlighted that there are just single NADRA office working in each Tehsil level and it is fully overloaded all the time. It was suggested by participants to make the obtaining of CNIC Card very easy and approachable to all without any discrimination.
Participants of the public forums asked some questions to Election Commission Representatives related to procedure of eligibility of voter, developing voter lists, delimitation process and polling system including results dissemination. The ECP personals highlighted in detail answering all the questions and also guide to participants for visiting their offices for rectifying the issues faced by them. DERGs members also discussed the fundamental issues especially related to women, their CNIC, Votes and pooling stations. While answering to them ECP’s representatives also demonstrated that their department with the support of Free & Fare Election network (FAFEN) working for the reformation of existing electoral system. While it is being believed that in next general election 2017-18, election system will be well organized. Most of participants also acknowledged and appreciated to ECP, NADRA and Aaghaz Foundation for their kind contribution providing such as open forum to discuss and find way forward for their issues in friendly way.At the end most of the participants are willing to participate in an effective way for smooth implementation of CVP project in district Jhang for whole project duration. The Conveners & deputy Conveners of DERGs groups shared their sound experiences about this projects and also appreciate it.
3. Major Achievements
I. Community provided an open platform to discuss their issues with the concerning department’s representatives instead of visiting their offices.
II. Line Departments NADRA and ECP declared to provide more support and guidance to citizens to rectify their common issues regarding CNIC, Votes and Delimitation.
III. Participants commit to share their lesson learnt with other community members and will also participate in upcoming all the forums like this.