Pakistan Social Accountability Network (PSAN)-Islamabad Chapter launched
Anticipating the urgent need for social accountability system in the country, Islamabad-based civil society organizations have joined hands to form a social accountability network to ensure accountability, good governance, and provision of effective and efficient public service delivery to the masses.
Representatives from like-minded civil society organizations gathered at Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) to formally launch the Islamabad Chapter of ‘Pakistan Social Accountability Network (PSAN)’, here on Tuesday. The event was attended by the implementing partners and likeminded civil society organizations such as Action Aid, Asia Foundation, Population Council, Human Development Foundation (HDF), Interfaith League against Poverty (I-LAP), Centre for Peace and Development Initiative (CPDI), The Network for Consumer Protection, Sahil and CRCP.
Pakistan Social Accountability Network (PSAN) is a SDPI initiative and network of organizations promoting social accountability at all tiers of the government.
Gulbaz Ali Khan, Senior Research Associate, SDPI briefed the participants about proposed network and concept of social accountability, its approach, tools and implementation for effective citizen engagement towards enhancement of public service delivery. Social accountability, he said, revolves around civic engagement, where common citizens and social organizations could directly participate in demanding accountability of the respective authorities. He mentioned some tools and mechanisms employed to ensure social accountability including Citizen Report Cards, Participatory Budgeting, Community Score Cards, Citizen Charts, Public Expenditure Tracking, Social Audits and People’s Right to Information Act.
He said that Social Accountability initiative is meant to achieve the broader goals of reducing poverty, increasing the effectiveness of development works and to empower the marginalized sections of society. However, the efficacy of the concept towards achieving the desired goals can only be enhanced if additional measures are taken to link up the supply and demand side of services, capacity of staff upgraded and an effective Monitoring and Evaluation system is put in practice, he added.
Zahid Abdullah of Center and Peace Development Initiatives (CPDI), gave a detailed presentation of CDPI and its allies efforts and initiatives including projects and media campaigns over the years to get the recognize the right to information as a conational right of citizens. The right to information has been acknowledged by the democratic forces under the constitution through 18th amendment and now there is a need of respective provincial legislation so that people of the country effectively exercise this fundamental right, he added. Sharing the experiences with Ministry of Information and federal ombudsman, he lamented that there still existed a culture of ruler and ruled in the country which has to be changed to ensure peoples empowerment.
Faisal Nadeem Gorchani, Coordinator, Policy Advocacy and Outreach, SDPI said that the bureaucracy over the years have persistently performed as a conservative institution which actually desired to rule publics instead of transforming into a true civil servant body. He talked about bringing radical reforms coupled with a change in bureaucratic mindset that is inherited from pre-independence colonial acts such as Secret Act 1924, and are major impediment in pro-poor public service delivery in Pakistan. “We badly need a professional and accountable bureaucratic support system, truly dedicated to public service and sensitive to the needs of millions of poor people of Pakistan,” he went on to say.
Participants in the meeting also decided to form a core committee comprising of ActionAid, I-Lap, Sahil, HDF and CPDI to handle the network activities. ActionAid was decided unanimously as the secretariat host for Islamabad chapter of the Network whereas Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) is already serving as the host of national secretariat.