ISLAMABAD: The Young Parliamentary Associates (YPA) programme initiated by the European Union (EU) funded Improving Parliamentary Performance in Pakistan (IP3 )projectaims to provide assistance to both the parliamentarians and the secretariat staff in research, communications, coordination and other parliamentary functions. This will be conducted by introducing promising young graduates from throughout Pakistan into the Senate and the National Assembly.
The training programme for the second cohort of Young Parliamentary Associates (YPAs), comprising of 35 young graduates, 14 of them women, commenced today at the Pakistan Institute for Parliamentary Services (PIPS).
Speaking at the inaugural event, Federal Minister for Science and Technology Mr. Zahid Hamid said that the YPA programme offers a “win-win” situation. “On one hand the YPAs are expected to bring positive energy; IT based skills and a fresh perspective which will complement the experience, knowledge and political acumen that the institution has gathered over decades. And in return, they get to experience the working in the most prestigious institution of the country”, he said.
The Minister hoped that the YPAs will contribute to Pakistan’s strides towards democracy, and “transform the country into a progressive, tolerant and democratic state, as envisaged by the father of the nation, the Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah.” He explained that this was a transitional time for Pakistan and the YPAs should understand that their role in assisting the MNAs in their work was very important. He offered them advice on how they should conduct their work and by following this advice they would find their work and their lives very fulfilling.
The YPAs very much appreciated the Minister’s remarks which they found inspirational.
Former MNA Ms. Yasmeen Rehmanin her key-note speech said that the Young Parliamentary Associates have been selected through a rigorous progress. She advised the YPAs to engage proactively with the parliamentarians and the secretariat staff and contribute towards strengthening of the process. She also said that the parliamentarians in Pakistan do not get enough support to perform their legislative duties. She hoped that the YPAs will help improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the parliamentary process.
Speaking earlier, IP3 team leader, Ms. Niamh O’ Connor welcomed the guests and introduced the YPA programme to the audience. She also shared the EU Ambassador Lars-Gunnar Wigemark’s message of regret that he could not attend the event to the YPAs and the other stakeholders, congratulating them on his behalf and wishing the second cohort success.
The YPAs were selected after a rigorous evaluation process, including test, interviews and group discussions from throughout Pakistan, including Gilgit-Baltistan and the Azad state of Kashmir.
The first cohort of 33 YPAs is currently serving in the Senate and the National Assembly. They began their work in August last year and will complete their assignment in October 2014. During their tenure as YPAs they have conducted work such as providing research assistance to the parliamentarian and the secretariat staff, handling communications, recording minutes and helping with other tasks assigned to them.
The inaugural ceremony for the second group of YPAs was attended by parliamentarians, officials from the European Union, various civil society organisations and government officials.