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UN Democracy Fund Awards East-West Center $225K to Help Strengthen Democracy in Pakistan
HONOLULU (Feb. 18, 2010) – The East-West Center has received a grant of $225,000 from the United Nations Democracy Fund to help strengthen Pakistan’s recently restored democracy. The project will reinforce electoral and parliamentary processes and enhance civil society’s capacity to promote accountability and transparency.

“Pakistan is a Muslim country of 164 million people, and a nuclear power,” said project leader Shabbir Cheema, Director of the East-West Center’s Asia-Pacific Governance and Democracy Initiative. “But a weak Parliament, lack of trust in electoral processes and weak civil society institutions have constrained the deepening and consolidation of democracy in the country.”

Out of the country’s nine direct parliamentary elections, Cheema said, only two have generally been accepted by the people and political parties as free and fair, including the 2008 elections. He said the grant from the UN Democracy Fund will support strengthening of the country’s electoral process through analysis of gaps in the process and dialogue between the Election Commission and the Citizens Group on Electoral Process, along with helping to improve Parliament’s legislative performance through policy briefs and national forums, and enhancing civil society organizations’ capacity to engage with the government on key issues.

The Pakistan project is a component of the East-West Center’s Asia-Pacific Governance and Democracy Initative and will be implemented in partnership with a network of institutions in Pakistan led by the Pakistan Institute for Legislative Development and Transparency.

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The EAST-WEST CENTER is an education and research organization established by the U.S. Congress in 1960 to strengthen relations and understanding among the peoples and nations of Asia, the Pacific, and the United States. The Center contributes to a peaceful, prosperous and just Asia Pacific community by serving as a vigorous hub for cooperative research, education and dialogue on critical issues of common concern to the Asia Pacific region and the United States. Funding for the Center comes from the U.S. government, with additional support provided by private agencies, individuals, foundations, corporations, and the governments of the region.