May 11, 2013, parliamentary elections marked a defining chapter in Pakistan’s democratic transition. For the first time in the country’s 66 year history, a civilian government completed a full five-year term and transferred power to another administration through an electoral process. While consecutive elections offer hope for continued democratic consolidation, this encouraging post-election political landscape is met with economic and security-related challenges.
To support the efforts of Pakistan to improve its economy and security situation, IRI hosted an Institute for Representative Government delegation of current and former members of Pakistan’s parliament to meet with local, state and federal government agencies in the United States and see first-hand how officials in the U.S. approach national security and economic policy.
Throughout the trip the delegation was able to survey possible economic development and national security administration partnerships with various levels of U.S. leadership; discuss pressing issues and possible solutions relevant to their respective constituencies; and witness how multi-agency and multi-level national security cooperation across the United States ensures protective measures are in place to secure economic interests. The delegation included:
- Iqbal Zaffar Jhagra, Secretary General, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N);
- Shafqat Mahmood, former member of Senate Standing Committees on Defense, Defense Production and Foreign Affairs;
- Amir Haider Azam Khan, head of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provincial government from 2008-2013;
- Sardar Muhammad Arshad Khan Leghari, PML-N; and
- Muhammad Rehan Hashmi, representative from Karachi and former general manager of a Pakistani foreign trade mission aimed towards enhancing bilateral trade and investment.
While in Washington, the delegation met with members of Congress, State Department officials and various development organizations throughout the city. As part of these meetings, the parliamentarians and their U.S. counterparts discussed the common challenge of combating both domestic and international terrorism. Khan discussed the opportunities and challenges associated with effective counterterrorism cooperation between the United States and Pakistan. While divergent views were shared, Mahmood stressed that peace and security can only be attained through enhanced dialogue and a common understanding among leaders from both nations.
From November 15-21, the parliamentarians engaged with state and municipal leadership on international trade and economic development throughout Los Angeles County. Striking parallels such as the area’s size and cultural diversity, as well as infrastructural issues the county faces were particularly illuminated by Hashmi during meetings with the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power and the Office of Government Affairs at the Port of Los Angeles. Hailing from the port city of Karachi, the largest and most populous metropolitan city of Pakistan, as well as one of the largest and busiest deep-water seaports of South Asia, Hashmi and the Los Angeles officials discussed issues ranging from water provision to port security and administration.
Throughout the trip, the delegates expressed enthusiasm at the prospect of potential future partnerships with various meeting participants to address similar challenges facing Pakistan.Top