A glimpse at Pakistan’s democratic future

Democracy, authoritarianism and military rule are the top three favorites of people, in power, who participate in politics. Being a complex network of laws and decision-making, politics has often been understood in the context of a competition for power. The famous sociologist Max Weber claimed that every society is based on power and thus, the idea of political landscape of any nation essentially boils down to the very fact that politics is nothing but a social institution that distributes power and makes decisions accordingly. Since its independence in 1947, the political scenario of Pakistan has swung between military, authoritarian and democratic forms of government. The globe has witnessed rising powers at the world arena as having a democratic government. This indicates that democracy can rightfully be considered as the best form of government. Nonetheless, the political landscape of Pakistan – due to various oscillations in the form of government – has been marked by instability with regards to socio-economic development.

As mentioned earlier, democracy is thought of as better than other forms of governments in ensuring socio-economic prosperity for multiple reasons. Firstly, democracy, based on consultation and discussion, significantly improves the quality of decision-making to hinder the government in power from making irresponsible decisions. Secondly, in a country as diverse as Pakistan – in terms of culture, language and religion – democracy helps in building social connection by promising equality and assurance of protecting basic as well as fundamental human rights. Hence, any government that violates human rights directly deteriorates its own stance as being democratic. Recently, the US Think Tank Freedom House listed India into the category of a semi or partially free state due to its imposition of atrocities and violence in occupied Kashmir. The Modi administration certainly forgot that democracy is the second name of empowering state-citizens for stripping individuals off their right to self-determination may not be considered democratic at all and, indeed, rightfully so.

The contemporary leaders of Pakistan have blurred the true vision and future of Pakistan that its founding father Muhammad Ali Jinnah dreamt of. He preferred democratic polity instead of authoritarianism camouflaged with inculpation of religious and military intervention. The history of Pakistan has, indeed, been a turbulent one. After M.A. Jinnah, the “Mullahs” hijacked Pakistan and manipulated its political stance by adding flavor of religion through the Objectives Resolution of 1949. Later in 1973, upon becoming an Islamic republic, Pakistan’s polity was yet again mishandled, through military intervention, by the likes of General Yahya Khan, General Zia-ul-Haq and General Pervez Musharraf. This challenged and, eventually, posed a threat to Pakistan’s democracy as civil supremacy was at stake. The past of Pakistan, undoubtedly, has been a gloomy one with regards to its stance as a democratic state.

To get a glimpse at future, it is of immense importance to at first get a good view of the past and the present. The present scenario of Pakistan’s democracy – engulfed by numerous challenges – seems likewise to its past. The contemporary government is faced with challenges likes polarization of politics, rising corruption, military interruption, dynastic rule and an ineffective system of accountability. The Pakistan Tehreek-I-Insaf (PTI), chairmanned by the Prime Minister Imran Khan, is in continuous verbal brawl with the opposition. This certainly has affected the government’s performance as it seems unable to focus primarily on better decision-making and forming better policies outside the genre of national security. Moreover, with weak institutions, democracy is bound to be weakened too as all the resources that are needed to be invested for the well-being of state-citizens, get looted by corrupt politicians and transferred abroad; pushing the nation towards bankruptcy.

An idea democracy is one that mainly focuses on the concept of human development as the real form of development. It is, as a matter of fact, the single vote of a state-citizen that decides the fate of a political party to either rise or fall. Features of an ideal democracy or pure democracy – as firstly incepted in the Greek city of Athens – are effective participation, equality in voting, informed electorate and free, fair and frequent elections. The reason for highlighting these is to demonstrate that Pakistan, pityingly, fails to secure any of the aforementioned features of an ideal democracy. This, thereby, calls for the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to play its role more actively and vibrantly by ensuring objectivity at the election polls. The future of Pakistan lies in this particular implementation as the nation is done for good to have witnessed dynastic rule over the past seven decades.

Henceforth, political parties need to stop considering politics a game and playing with the lives of their state-citizens who entitle in them their trust through the vote they cast. Corruption needs to be stopped and law be declared as equal for all be it the poor or the powerful political elite. Pakistan has been robbed decade after decade by generation after generation of corrupt political parties. It is due to this rise in corruption that today Pakistan is buried under the load of debt. An objective system of accountability will put this concern on notice, allowing the current leaders to properly direct the resources for the well-being of state-citizens. Other than this, military interventions need to be halted. Neither the military nor the religious clerics should have any role in political decision-making. In a nutshell, the future of Pakistan’s democracy can be seen as promising with new leaders being given a chance to step into the political arena and experiment for the cause of promoting social equality, justice and accountability. The time will however, best decide whether the above positive hypothesis will turn out to be true.


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