Karachi, September 20, 2012 (PPI-OT): A workshop on “The Challenges for Democracy in South Asia: Are there Lessons to be Learned from Europe?” was held at the Area Study Centre for Europe, University of Karachi in collaboration with the Hanns Seidel Foundation, Islamabad on September 20, 2012. “The history of South Asia has been highly influenced by the colonial experience; it was political opportunism in the indigenous political environment that afforded the British 150 years of uninterrupted rule”.
These views were expressed by Prof. Dr. Moonis Ahmar, Director, Area Study Centre for Europe, University of Karachi. He was giving his inaugural address at a workshop on “The Challenges for Democracy in South Asia; Are there lessons to be learned from Europe?” organized by the centre in collaboration with the Hanns Seidel Foundation, Islamabad, on 20th September, 2012.
Mr. Andreas Duerr, Program Coordinator of the Hanns Seidel Foundation, welcomed the guest on behalf of his organization and hoped that these kinds of workshops will prove to be intellectually meaningful. Prof. Dr. Adnan Sarwar, Chairman Department of International Relations, University of Peshawar, presented a paper on “An overview of the Evolution of Democracy and Democratic process in Europe”.
He was of the view that democracy has ancient roots in European culture. He mentioned the fact that it was through a conscious process of change and enlightenment that built great democratic tradition and institutions in Europe. Dr. Mohammed Waseem, Professor of Political Science, Lahore University of Management Sciences, presented a paper on “The Dilemmas of Post-Colonial evolution of Democratic Institutions in South Asia: Models from Europe”.
He said that democracy grows in a society that fosters a strong culture of social legalization. He said that identity issues have largely influenced the political mindsets of the people in South Asia. He said that entrance legitimacy should be accompanied by performance legitimacy. Democracy at its roots requires a solid culture of political progressivism along with dynamic civil society.
Dr. Farhan Hanif Siddiqui, Assistant Professor at the Department of International Relations, presented a paper on, “Political and Democratic Evolution in South Asia: Indian Model of Democracy”.
He said that deep cultural diversity happens to be an important political issue in India, he continued, co-exists with a deep cultural diversity and a strong democratic polity. He emphasized the fact that the ruling elites in India have sustained their commitment towards a formal democratic system of governance. Muhammad Salman, Cooperative Teacher at the Department of International Relations, presented a paper on, “Political process in Bangladesh and the Challenges Ahead: Learning from the European Models”.
He said that Bangladesh has a socio-political scenario where military continues to determine the course of political processes. There have been many military coups. The political culture in Bangladesh is, like other developing states, in its nascent stage. Professor Dr. Moonis Ahmar concluded the session by hoping that the political elites in South Asia would traverse the path of justice, equality and development. The workshop had lively question and answer sessions in which students and other guests participated.
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