Strengthening Political Parties
Currently, with funding from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), NDI is working to strengthen Pakistan’s political parties’ ability to develop policies that respond to the concerns of grassroots political party members. This program is designed to give voice to local leaders and activists. NDI is helping parties to engage grassroots members and citizens in the policy development process, develop party training and research units and strengthen internal party structures. This program is being conducted through subgrantee partnerships with the International Republican Institute (IRI), the Institute for Public Opinion Research (IPOR) and the Strengthening Participatory Organization (SPO).
With support from the Norwegian government, the Institute is currently initiating programs to promote the participation of women and young political leaders in the lead up to the 2013 national and provincial elections. NDI is providing participants with the opportunity to develop skills and experience required to make a significant contribution to their parties’ election planning and campaign execution.
With funding from the Dutch Government in 2008, NDI implemented programs to help reform party secretariats. The Institute worked with members of women and youth wings to develop and implement advocacy strategies to promote their inclusion in party decision making and policy development. This program also helped increase political skills among women and young people in campaign organizing, fundraising, internal and external communications, member recruitment and retention, the development of work plans and advocacy for greater leadership roles within the party. As a result of this program and the women’s wing advocacy campaigns, some parties have agreed to reserved seats on the parties’ decision making bodies for women.
NDI conducted programs to strengthen women and youth participation in parties in June 2004 and April 2006. With its local partner, the Centre for Civic Education (CCE), the Institute initiated a program in 2004 to enhance political parties’ ability to undertake internal party reform. This pilot project based in the North West Frontier Province, now Khyber-Pakhtoonkhwa, supported the emergence of reform-minded leaders from parties committed to a democratic political system. The program expanded into a multi-year program, supported by USAID, to assist political parties nationwide.
Promoting Political Reform in FATA
Since 2007, NDI has been conducting programs to engage political parties and tribal representatives on policies for political reform in Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). NDI partners with the Shaheed Bhutto Foundation (SBF) in supporting these programs. More than 300 tribal representatives and 10 political parties participated in a series of regional consultative workshops to determine reform priorities. In January 2009, over 100 of these representatives presented their recommendations directly to President Asif Ali Zardari. This event contributed to the President’s announcement on August 14, 2009 of a FATA reforms package.
Further meetings and roundtables convened by NDI throughout 2010 led to the creation of the Political Parties Joint Committee on FATA Reforms. Under this body, mainstream political parties adopted a resolution in March 2011 calling on the president to implement the reforms announced in August 2009.
On August 12, 2011, President Zardari signed two orders that authorized key political and administrative reforms – the extension of Pakistan’s Political Parties Order of 2002 to the tribal areas and the amendment of FATA’s Frontier Crimes Regulation, the first reforms in FATA in 100 years. Under the new orders, political parties are permitted to form and operate in the tribal areas, fielding candidates in FATA under their party banners for the first time. With funding from the British Government, NDI is continuing to work with political parties, parliamentarians and FATA citizens to promote public awareness campaigns on FATA reforms and to identify additional reform priorities and areas of consensus.
Supporting the Electoral Process
NDI has been actively involved in supporting the electoral process in Pakistan. The Institute organized international delegations to observe the national and provincial elections in 1988, 1990, and 1993. In 1997, NDI sponsored a pre-election delegation to assess election preparations. In advance of the 2002 general elections, NDI organized nationwide trainings for over 1,200 party poll watchers. The Institute also produced and distributed over 550,000 party poll watching manuals, which were widely used on election day. In May and October 2007, NDI organized pre-election assessment missions in advance of parliamentary and provincial elections. The Institute implemented a program that trained approximately 45,000 party polling agents to monitor polling stations on election day. NDI also worked with political parties to provide advice on the design and implementation of a communication system for the collection and analysis of election results and complaints.
For further program materials, press releases, and communications on NDI’s programs in Pakistan, please see the “Related News and Publications” section.
Recent Publications Available in English and Urdu
For more information about these programs, use our contact form or contact:
Sandra Houston, Senior Resident Director
Raissa Tatad-Hazell, Washington-DC Director for Afghanistan and Pakistan Programs