ISLAMABAD - Like other parts of the globe, International Day of Democracy observed in Pakistan on Sunday under the 2013 theme `Strengthening Voices for Democracy'.
Democracy is a universal value based on the freely expressed will of people to determine their own political, economic, social and cultural systems and their full participation in all aspects of their lives.
The subject of this year's theme, "Strengthening Voices for Democracy" aims to shine a spotlight on the importance of people's voices, both expressed directly and through their elected representatives, in today's political, economic, social, developmental, environmental and technological debates.
The ability of people to raise their voices and decide how they are governed lies at the heart of democracy. The Inter-Parliamentary Union is promoting the International Day of Democracy through its Member Parliaments in 162 countries around the world.
The UN General Assembly, encourages govts to strengthen national programmes devoted to the promotion and consolidation of democracy, and also decided that September 15 of each year should be observed as the International Day of Democracy.
In his message on this day, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said: "This year's International Day of Democracy falls amid volatile political transitions in several countries, prolonged economic crisis, and dramatic demographic and social change. These events all underscore the need to strengthen people's voices in how they are governed an imperative that lies at the heart of democracy.
He said despite advances in civic engagement, apathy has become democracy's most insidious enemy in a growing number of societies.
"Inclusive participation is the antidote. It is not only an end in itself, it prepares communities, societies and entire countries to address opposing points of view, forge compromises and solutions, and engage in constructive criticism and deliberations. Inclusive participation helps communities develop functioning forms of democracy for government, corporations and civil society,” he added.
Ban Ki-moon said: "We live in a new era of ever greater possibilities for individuals to obtain information and influence decision-making, facilitated by evolving technologies. These can help people to play a more direct role in areas that I consider the most immediate global priorities for our age: reducing inequalities; preventing armed conflict and building a safer and more secure world; supporting nations in transition; empowering women and young people; and advancing sustainable development."
The UN Secretary General said "As we strive to accelerate progress on attaining the Millennium Development Goals by the target date of 2015, we are shaping a vision for development beyond that year. Global consultations on the post-2015 development agenda - in themselves an unprecedented effort to bring people's voices to international policymaking have re-affirmed the importance of putting people at the heart of development".
The million voices represented in the UN's MY World survey overwhelmingly call for open and responsive government, placing this in the top three goals they seek in a future development.