How to Make Pakistan a True Democratic State?
Since its inception in 1947, Pakistan has faced various problems including, but not limited to, political agitations, soaring inflation, rising unemployment, unending energy crisis and rampant militancy; all of which have been taking a heavy toll on the country. But, despite all that continues, the so-called plant of ‘democracy’ is taking its roots, as claimed by the ruling elite. Ironically, in a country that came into existence with the sacrifices of millions of people — the true rulers in democracy jargon — the common masses are being exploited at the hands of their own chosen rulers. People are being exterminated by the monsters of terrorism and sectarianism but the rulers are busy in playing democracy, democracy. Unfortunately, the continuation of democracy in Pakistan is nothing more than a transition of power from one dominating community to another.
In the instant piece, the writer has presented a comparative description of democracy and its rival political system like fascism, for a deeper and better understanding of true democracy.
The word ‘democracy’ comes from the Greek Demos (the people) and kratia (power, rule). So the term democracy quintessentially means “the people’s rule.” In a democratic country, the government is run by the people through representatives they chose in elections. The main feature of democracy, or more rightly the true democracy, is free and fair elections whereby people freely elect their rulers. They say the judgement of many people is generally better than that of a few people. So, the government which is the product of a free and fair election represents the will of the public.
Democracy as it is found in most of the today’s Western countries derives its roots from Athens, a city-state of the ancient Greece. Around 620BC, Athens became the first true democratic state.
Democracy has been around for almost 2500 years since Athens, Greece, became the first democracy with the Athenian ruler Draco assuming the power. Nevertheless, the biggest problem with the Athenian democracy was that only a few people could become the citizens of the city-state. It effectively placed power in the hands of a few people and it disenfranchised many slaves and non-landowners. Around 500BC, the Romans also had a brief tryst with democracy; however it proved short-lived as Rome was more like a republic than a democracy. In Rome, wealthy individuals and patricians had far more power than the plebs. Although, there were pitfalls in both cases, yet it was an encouraging step towards a true democracy as it ensured equality, justice, rule of law and meritocracy.
England also laid the foundations of democracy with the signing of the Magna Carta by King John in England in 1215AD. This document is considered a very important symbol of human freedom and liberty.
Later, in the 1700’s, United States of America also emerged on the world map as a democracy.
Now, when we compare democracy with fascism, it dawns on us that a cornerstone of democracy is dissent or disagreement. With disagreements come discussions which lead to the strengthening of the democratic institutions. So, the voiceless must be allowed to raise their voice for the purpose of achieving their basic and fundamental rights. Moreover, democracy guarantees the rule of law which, in turn, ensures an equal application of law, accountability, freedom of speech and creativity while in any other form of government; for instance fascism, monarchy or dictatorship, all these feature are solely lacking.
On the contrary, fascism is a political ideology that advocates an authoritarian hierarchical government, which has a complete control over the people, the nation and the economy. The fascist economic system creates an upper class for whom the working class or the plebs work and produce things. To justify themselves as beneficial to the oppressed lower class, the fascist install an extreme sense of nationalism and organicism. In essence, the fascist political structure consists of a totalitarian government with an extreme sense of absolutism.
Regrettably, in Pakistan, there is a sham democracy. Although elections are held in the country yet the democratic institutions have been largely unable to perform their constitutional duties in true letter and spirit. The incompetency of Election Commission of Pakistan in holding free and fair elections has been proved by the report of the Judicial Commission which dealt a serious blow to the democratic norms in the country. We all know that supremacy of judiciary and a vibrant role of media are prerequisites to a true democratic society, however, in Pakistan, both these institutions are largely responsible for the prevalence of a sham democracy.
In order to make Pakistan a real democratic state, it is imperative that we strengthen state institutions. While the parliament legislates on all important issues, it should do so expeditiously. The law-enforcement agencies (LEAs) must also strictly implement laws to ensure that there is rule of law in the country. Moreover, the role of military should be limited to defence-related matters only. However, in Pakistan, it can be made possible only if the politicians and the civil institutions perform their duties with complete honesty and full vigour. Historically, every ruling party in our country strives only to maintain and prolong its rule, a practice which must end now.
Thus, the direst need of the hour is to establish true democratic norms in Pakistan. The democratic institutions must be strengthened to run the state affairs independently. The society must also be rid of terrorism, extremism corruption, nepotism, cronyism and other such ills. All these goals can be achieved only if the state institutions play their respective roles with absolute honesty.