Interview with Mr.Philipp Kauppert Resident Representative Friedrich Ebert Foundation (FES)
German development cooperation in Pakistan dates back to 1960 with current volume of support is 2.3 billion EUR. Pakistan has always remained one of the few countries in Asia for having a strong partnership with Germany for achieving the development goals in the country. The major focus of the cooperation has remained in the areas of energy, good governance, health and education( including both technical and vocational training) while most of the development investment was in the areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), Kashmir, Gilgit Baltistan, Punjab and Sindh. Along with various development agencies, there are various political foundations working in Pakistan as well. These political foundations are representatives of German political parties while they are financed through public funds, but are non-governmental and autonomous organisations. They work mostly in the countries which are in transitional phase of democracy. These are formally NGOs and are linked with German Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and Foreign Ministry (AA). These foundations are mostly committed to run “political education projects, encourage civic involvement in political life and to promote pluralism and designated mandate of the political party. The amount of funds that each foundation receives depends on the strength of political party represented in the German Parliament (Bundestag).
There are currently five foundations that are working in Pakistan. Our foundation Friedrich Ebert Stiftung(FES) affiliated to the Social-Democratic Party and created in 1925 is the oldest one. Then there is Konrad Adenauer Stiftung(KAS) affiliated to the Christian Democratic Union established in 1964, Friedrich Naumann Foundation (FNF) is affiliated to the Liberal Democratic Party in 1958. Hanns Seidel Stiftung (HSS) is named after the regional CSU politician from Bavaria, Hanns Seidel. The Heinrich Böll Foundation (HBS) affiliated to the Green Party was created in 1997.
The Diplomatic Insight has arranged an exclusive interview of Mr.Philipp Kauppert, resident representative of Friedrich Ebert Foundation (FES).
Q: Thank you Mr. Kauppert for your time. For our reader’s information, could you elaborate the work of FES in general and its thematic areas and projects particular to Pakistan?
Ans: Yes, as you know FES is a German political foundation associated with Social Democratic Party of Germany(SPD). It was established in 1925 as the political legacy of Friedrich Ebert, Germany’s first democratically elected President. Having headquarters is in Bonn and Berlin, it has offices in over 100 countries. It is also one of the oldest organizations to promote democracy, political education, and support students of outstanding intellectual abilities and political engagement. We have opened our office in Pakistan in 1990 but in the mid 80s we have started our cooperation with Pakistan. FES in Pakistan developed partnerships with organizations carrying out research projects aiming at promoting the dialogue between state institutions, political parties, trade unions, other civil society actors and the general public. Work of FES has also been focused in Pakistan on promotion of democracy, youth development, industrial relations and regional dialogue.
FES aims to promote democratic values in Pakistan by establishing and strengthening civil society along with reinforcing democratic government institutions. FES also promotes dialogue amongst various groups of the society in order to resolve disputes by bridging civil society together with state.
Q: How FES is able promote its work in Pakistan? How your work is different from the projects done by other German Foundations?
Ans: We usually cooperate with our partner organizations to carry out our projects. These projects are long term and short term depending on the need raised by our partners. We share our findings from the projects and research with wider civil society and policy circles. Like for example we produce several publications including one is called “Asian National Media Barometer (ANMB) Pakistan-2012”. This is actually a home grown media analysis. It is an analytical tool to measure the national media environments on the Asian continent. Unlike other media indices, the ANMB is a self-assessment exercise by a panel of local experts. It also serves as a practical lobbying tool for media reform. Its results are presented to the public of the respective country to push for an improvement of the media situation. We share this with our partners, journalists, and press clubs and media houses in order to have wider readership and understanding. We also regularly hold sessions with other German political foundations as well so that we may know about each other’s work. These sessions also gives us fair understanding about each other work and help us not to overlap the development work we are carrying.
Since the German political foundations represent different political ideologies and value systems, we also differ in the promotion of actors and the focus on topics. As a foundation committed to the values of Social Democracy, we support the empowerment and professionalization of trade unions in order to achieve a more socially inclusive and financially stable economic development.
Q: How has FES viewed Pakistan’s general Elections of 2013?
The elections of the federal parliament in May 2013 have been a highly important cornerstone in Pakistan’s political history. Even if there is still room for improvement, one has to mention that the quality of the electoral process has improved significantly and elections have overall been relatively free and fair. The citizens of Pakistan have understood that a government can be replaced if the performance is not satisfactory and politicians are not able to convince the voters anymore. At the same time, there is an ongoing decentralization process which has been started with the 18th amendment to the Constitution in 2010. Many competences are now lying with the provincial parliaments, which were elected on the same day as the federal parliament. The political picture is quite different if one looks at the relevant parties in governments and oppositions at the provincial level. A positive scenario is that there will a positive competition between the different provincial government which will try to prove to the voters that they are able to perform. A negative scenario is that the different provincial governments refuse to cooperate and coordinate with each other even on a minimum level for certain policies which cannot be developed and implemented on the provincial level alone. From my understanding, local governance is a very important area for the further decentralization and democratization of Pakistan
Q: How you view future of Democracy in Pakistan? How FES work is helping build democratic institutions within the country?
The future political development in Pakistan will very much depend on the social and economic development. If the new government will not be able to have a better performance in key areas as energy policy, the economy, but also with regards to the security situation, many people will question the value of having “democratically elected leaders” and easily accept other leaders. If the growing young generation is not finding jobs and not feeling an improvement in the quality of life, the political situation and stability in the country is likely to suffer. Therefore, FES is willing to support the discussions about the quality of forward-looking social and economic policies in order to create more social justice and better employment opportunities. This will only function if it goes hand in hand with inclusive political institutions, and FES will continue to try its best in order to strengthen democratic processes and mechanisms. Even if there is no blueprint for the future of Democracy in Pakistan, many lessons can be learned through regional and international exchange of experiences and ideas.
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