Raza Rabbani is well-accomplished and independent-minded politician who needs no introduction. The former Chairman Senate and PPP senior leader has added another feather in his cap by being elected as an executive member of the prestigious Inter-Parliamentary Union.
The victory seemed much sweeter after India had to withdraw its candidature of noted politician and former diplomat Shashi Tharoor. The IPU was holding a meeting of its Asian Pacific Group – currently chaired by National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaisar – in the Serbian capital Belgrade when it needed to fill one slot for the executive committee.
The Pakistan parliamentary delegation was vigorously pursuing Rabbani’s candidate. In a surprising move, the Indian delegation led by Lok Sabha speaker Om Birla forwarded Tharoor’s candidature. The attempt was thwarted by the diplomatic skills of the Pakistani delegation. Sensing an immediate defeat and Rabbani’s better position, India immediately withdrew the nomination after it failed to gain support.
The IPU is a global organisation of parliaments. It was founded as the first multilateral political organisation in the world, encouraging cooperation and dialogue between all nations. Today, the IPU comprises of 179 members and convenes 1500 parliamentary delegates twice a year in a world assembly. It is a rather powerful body bringing a parliamentary dimension to global governance including the work of the United Nations and implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
Pakistan now has seven members in different committees of the IPU including Sherry Rehman and Murtaza Abbasi. The victory is seen as the result of Asaid Qaiser’s diplomacy and leadership skills as a large number of parliamentarians have ventured into key international positions under his speakership. Last month, PTI member Shandana Gulzar was elected chairperson of the Commonwealth World Parliamentarians, in which the National Assembly Speaker played an instrumental role.
The presence of Pakistanis at international forums will help carry forward its narrative. It is also a testimony to Pakistani’s parliamentarians who have the acumen to be part of such prestigious positions. The move will also strengthen democracy and help our parliament become stronger.
Being elected as an executive member is an achievement for Rabbani who has dissenting views on several matters with his own party leadership. He is widely considered as a man of principles and ‘Mr Clean’ of Pakistani politics. His presence at the IPU will carry forward Pakistan’s message to the global body. More importantly it is indeed a huge achievement for Pakistan.