Editorial (Oct 2014)

Democracy in Pakistan | Always on the Tenterhooks


It is often said that democracy is the best form of government that is functional in most countries of the world today. It is hard to negate that the countries where democracy put its roots down reached the zenith of development and good governance within no time. The exemplary development of the countries like United Kingdom, the US, Japan etc., bears testimony to this fact. Though it has some in-built flaws, yet in the words of Sir Winston Churchill, “It is the worst form of government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.”
Democracy as professed by great philosophers and scholars is, in essence, the vox populi of a nation and the supremacy of public will is at its core. The greatest of the Athenian philosophers, Aristotle, wrote: “Democracy is when the indigent, and not the men of property, are the rulers.”
But, lamentably the case is altogether different in Pakistan. Here the democracy always faces crucifixion due to corrupt practices of only a few people. Its history in Pakistan is so chequered that we, the Pakistanis, are always on tenterhooks when it comes to the future of democracy. Though, the intermittent military takeovers frustrated the strengthening of democracy, our political ‘dictators’ too are not less culpable for this imbroglio. Their sheer ineptness, corruption, nepotism, and all the vices one can think of, keep it on the verge of collapse.
Apparently, the civil-military relations in Pakistan are as good as the democratic norms require. But, the reality is starkly different. How one can deny that hardly a civilian government starts to settle down, the clouds of distrust start hovering over the skies of Islamabad. The recent episode of long marches and dharnas, and the longest joint session of the parliament, elaborate the schism between our civil and military leadership.
Nevertheless, they say there always is a silver lining in the cloud. And, this silver lining is the rise of middle and upper middle class of the country as a stakeholder in the country’s body politic. Besides their unprecedented participation in 2013 elections, their fervour and zeal in PAT’s and PTI’s sit-ins have put our rotten political system, which patronizes all sorts of ill practices in the corridors of power, on the deathbed. This political upheaval has also made media show its mettle. Given its role in exposing our rulers’ corrupt practices and indifference to public grievances, it seems that the thanedar Senator Chaudhry Aitzaz Ahsan referred to in his address to the parliament is the Pakistani media. Round-the-clock coverage of sit-ins which awakened the masses, made the erstwhile absent-from-house Prime Minister, attend the session for many days and listen to the scathing criticism directed at his government’s highest functionaries. Notwithstanding media’s impressive role in political awakening, it is also a reality that some channels indulged in the filthy blame game against either PTI’s Kaptaan or the government of Mian Nawaz Sharif. Continual airing of Rana Mashhood-Asim Malik row by a private channel is unethical because the person who is being projected as a hero is himself wanted in Pakistan for fleecing hundreds of people. This matter should be thoroughly probed and the culprits should face the music. But, one-sided character assassination must stop now. The authority to ensure that media houses obey country’s laws as well as journalism ethics, i.e. Pemra has been rendered toothless due to reasons unknown to us.
Today’s is a Pakistan of 21st century and a digital age. Our brilliant, talented and energetic youth does need a real leadership now. Our rulers should understand now that no old gimmicks can satisfy the young generation. Their fervour and spirit needs to be channelized prudently so as to make the most of it for the development of our dear homeland. If they have a true, just and honest leader to follow, then be assured that the reality to the dream of a developed, prosperous and peaceful Pakistan that would be respected by the whole world is not far. In the words of Iqbal:
But of his barren acres Iqbal will not despair:
A little rain, and harvests shall wave at last, oh Saki!

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