ISLAMABAD: More Pakistanis than Indians favour cooperative relations between Islamabad and New Delhi but both the people consider either state the “least friendly” country, said a survey released by Pakistan Institute of Legislative Development and Transparency (PILDAT) at a roundtable discussion here.
The nation-wide survey conducted by PILDAT with the support and assistance of Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA) to measure various trends in both the countries on democracy, trust of the people in various state institutions, their expectations of elected representatives, and impact of television and newspapers.
According to the survey, 33 per cent Pakistanis think India “is a friendly” country while only 11 per cent Indians said Pakistan was a friendly country. When asked about China, 96 per cent responded it was the “friendliest” country to Pakistan while 77 per cent regarded Bangladesh as a friendly country.
The “Views on State Democracy in South Asia: 2013” Pakistan Report was jointly launched by Danish Ambassador to Islamabad Jesper Moller Sorensen and PILDAT President Ahmed Bilal Mehboob at a local hotel where experts on the subject and parliamentarians expressed their views on it. The “Indian Report” was released by Director CSDS Sanjay Kumar, who especially flew here to do the job.
The Danish ambassador on the occasion also launched a $3.5 million programme for Pakistan on democratic development and good governance in joint collaboration with PILDAT.
In his brief remarks, the ambassador said democracy was heart of Danish assistance as it was pursuing a human rights approach to development because social and economic rights of the people could not be separated.
“Our programme has a special focus on instilling democratic values in the youth through the Youth Parliament programme.
Under this programme, young people from across the country are trained in the values of democracy.
This creates understanding, respect and tolerance for other people’s opinions, besides being an innovative approach to engage youth in such an important process,” said the envoy, adding that it was needed to empower the people.
When people were asked how much are they satisfied with functioning of democracy in Pakistan, 53 per cent they were “satisfied”, which showed an increase of 21 per cent in satisfaction with democracy.
Sanjay Kumar said 55 per cent Indians were satisfied with democracy while 33 per were dissatisfied.
Some 62 per cent males while 54 per cent females were satisfied with the functioning democracy. In Pakistan, 56 males were satisfied while 50 per women were satisfied with functioning of democracy. Interestingly 54 per cent Indian people did not know what the meaning of democracy is, he added.
Speaking on the occasion, Ahmed Bilal Mehboob said many Pakistanis were rightly proud of the 2013 elections, where one democratically elected government succeeded another.
“Yet democracy is still fragile, so we must continuously keep an eye on the political development and make demands to our politicians to consolidate democracy.
Even more citizens from all parts of society should actively participate in the democratic processes. The citizens need better information about the government’s policies and practices to hold them responsible.
We are delighted that Denmark supports our work,” said Mehboob.
Defence analyst Dr. Hassan Rizvi said it was encouraging that support for democracy in Pakistan was increasing. What surprised him was that the Pakistani media was not spreading dissatisfaction, which was against the popularly held belief, he added.
Dr. Ejaz Shafi Gilani, in his remarks, said it was satisfying to observe that the support for democracy in Pakistan was higher than a decade ago.
He said the support for representative government in Pakistan was 78 per cent while in India it was 86 per cent.