Democracy in the 21st century: Expert visit of Prof Herta Däubler-Gmelin, former German Federal Minister of Justice

As a German organization, part of the work of Friedrich-Ebert Stiftung is connecting stakeholders from both countries. We want to deepen political ties between Pakistan and Germany and establish dialogues between parliamentarians, ministries and civil society actors.

To achieve this, we recently welcomed the former Federal Minister of Justice of Germany, Prof. Herta Däubler-Gmelin for an expert visit to Pakistan. Herta Däubler-Gmelin was a member of the Bundestag, the German Parliament, from 1972 to 2009, making her the third-longest serving member in parliamentary history. She served as Minister of Justice from 1998 to 2002, overhauling the German Civil Code and reforming other important parts of legislation.

After leaving office, she has been active with FES-offices around the world and FES Pakistan was honored to welcome her. As part of her week-long visit, she held several meetings with key-figures and representatives of civil society.

Her visit started with a trip to Swabi University, where she held a lecture on the importance of the Rule of Law in Democracies: “The most important thing about the law is: it is the same for everyone, no matter if you are a former Minister or a student.” Prof. Däubler-Gmelin was impressed by the knowledgeable students of the faculty of political science and the vivid exchange that followed.

Back in Islamabad, Herta Däubler-Gmelin held a meeting with the Minister of Law and Justice, Azam Nazeer Tarar. From Former German Minister of Justice to the current Pakistani Minister of Law, they discussed the significance of the judiciary in democracies and the legal system of Pakistan. Later in the week, FES Pakistan organized a consultative meeting on "Framing the Rules for ICT Domestic Workers Act 2022" co-chaired by the honorable Law Minister Mr. Azam Nazeer Tarar and Prof. Däubler-Gmelin.

As mentioned, Prof. Däubler-Gmelin served as Minister from 1998 to 2002 – the same time, when the government of Gerhard Schröder made the decision to send troops into Afghanistan. FES Pakistan's Strategic Foresight Group hosted a discussion with the Minister and an expert-input by former Ambassador of Pakistan to Afghanistan, Mansoor Ahmad Khan.

In another high-level meeting, Prof. Däubler-Gmelin had the honor of meeting with the Minister of State at the Foreign Office Pakistan, Hinar Rabbina Khar. They discussed the Pakistani-German bilateral relations and the role of the respective countries in the region. “Pakistan is a valued friend of Germany and I hope we can deepen the friendship over the years to come”, Däubler-Gmelin said in the meeting. The former Minister also had the honor of discussing the involvement of Media in democratic processes with the Federal Minister of Information, Marriyum Aurangzeb, and State Secretary Shahera Shahid.

As the former chair of the Human Rights Commission of the Bundestag, Herta Däubler-Gmelin was especially interested in the Human Rights situation in Pakistan. Dr. Mahreen Bhutto, Chair of the Standing Committee on Human Rights, and Iqbal Detho gave her an insight into the multifaceted topic.

On the final day of her visit in the capital, Prof. Däubler-Gmelin met with the Hon. Chief Justice of Islamabad High Court, Mr. Aamer Farooq, to discuss the state of the legal systems in Germany and Pakistan. Later, she travelled onwards to Lahore. In exchange with former Attorney General of Pakistan Ashtar Ausaf Ali and different stakeholders of the judiciary, the Former Justice Minister was able to get a full picture of the situation in Pakistan.

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