Thursday, November 15, 2012

essay - Future of Democracy in Pakistan

Future of Democracy in Pakistan

      I.        Quaid’s vision of Democracy
    II.        United Nations and democracy
·         United Nations Democratic Fund
·         UN charter endorses democracy
·         Article 21 of Universal Declaration of Human Rights highlights democratic values
   III.        Democratic states-a universal standard form of human society
  IV.        Origin of democracy
    V.        Contribution of different cultures for evolution of democracy
  VI.        Varieties of democracy
 VII.        Islam and democracy
·         Islamic form of government is close to democracy
·         Islamic democracy slightly differs from western secular democracy
Main Body:
i.              Political history of Pakistan:
·         Assassination of Liaquat Ali Khan, 1951
·         Martial law of Ayub Khan, 1958
·         Transfer of power to General Yahya Khan, 1969
·         Dismemberment of Pakistan, 1971
·         Zulfikar Ali Bhutto as Civilian Martial law Administrator
·         Martial law of General Zia UL Haq, 1977
·         Restoration of so-called democracy, 1988
·         Martial law of General Pervaiz Musharraf, 1999
·         Restoration of democracy, 2008

ii.             Causes of failure of democracy in Pakistan:

·         The spirit of unity evaporated after emergence of Pakistan
·         Egocentric politicians
·         Military involvement in politics
·         Dictators choose the worst lot of politicians every time
·         Corruption
·         Strengthening of bureaucracy
·         Feudal cum politicians
·         Leadership void
·         Lack of education
·         Lack of economic development
-       Paul Collier-$2,700 per capita income as the threshold to democracy
·         Mutual squabbling of politicians
·         Personality-driven politics
·         Weak independent institutions
·         Constitutional crisis
·         Concentration of power with the president
·         Extremists illusion that democracy is un-Islamic

iii.            Impact of failure of democracy:

·         Terrorism
·         Fanned separatist movements
·         Economic deterioration
·         Failure to form independent foreign policy
·         Weaker government institutes
·         Writ of the government is not all encompassing

iv.           Steps for  restoration of true form of democracy:
·         Military should stop interference
·         Reformation of the judiciary
·         Accountability
·         Mature political leadership
·         Abolition of 'Jagirdari' and feudal Systems
·         Provide opportunities to common man to being elected as parliamentarian
·         Strengthen public institutions
·         Keep the constitution intact
·         Educate the masses
·         Media should play a positive role
·         International community should help to strengthen democratic system
·         Will and determination of all the stakeholders
·         Democracy-the only remedy
·         True democracy is the panacea for Pakistan
·         The future of democracy may seem bleak but through determination it can be made bright

“Cheshire-Puss,” Alice began… ” would you tell me which way I ought to go from here?” “That depends a good deal on where you want to go,” said the Cat. “I don’t much care where.” said Alice. “Then it doesn’t matter much which way you go… ” said the Cat. Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland.
The founder of Pakistan, Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah had envisioned the newly independent Muslim state’s foreign policy to be of “peace with all, and enmity with none
Functionally, the Quaid’s also expected the nation’s irrevocable commitment to the ideals of democracy, pluralism, market economy, social justice, communal harmony and egalitarian order. He visualized a Pakistan that would be stable politically and strong economically where its people could live their lives and raise their children in dignity, free from the fear of violence, oppression and injustice, and where they and their future generations could also live free from hunger, disease, and illiteracy.
The Quaid’s vision woefully remains unfulfilled. What a tragedy and an irony that a country which on its birth was considered “twentieth century miracle” of a state should today be struggling for a place among the “peaceful nations” of the world. For more than half a century, Pakistan has been wallowing in political and economic uncertainty and has had neither domestic stability nor peaceful borders. Its post-independence political history is replete with endemic crises and challenges that perhaps no other country in the world has experienced.
We as a nation have not only failed to grapple with these challenges but are in fact living remorselessly with these problems as an “integral” part of our society. Governments and the Assemblies have been part of the problem rather than solution. Aversion to the rule of law is endemic. Poor governance has been our  national hallmark. Crime and corruption remained rampant and galore both in scope and scale. Our country is today the classic example of ingenuities for bribery, exchange of favours and illegitimate perquisites. “You scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours” is the common approach followed by public officials, be they parliamentarians or civil and military officials. The culture of perks and privileges has been growing at the expense of the state. 

Democracy is a political form of government in which governing power is derived from the people. Though there is no universally accepted definition of 'democracy', but eminent scholars have ensured democracy as equality, fair play and freedom. Even the United Nations endorses the democratic form of government and has established the “United Nations Democracy Fund” to strengthen democratic institutions and practices around the world. The democratic values were highlighted in the Charter of the United Nations, as well as in the Article 21 of Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It has been speculated that the aforementioned trajectory followed by the world will eventually lead this world to the point where liberal democratic nation-states will become the universal standard for human society.
Democracy is good, I say this because all other systems are worseJawaharlal Nehru
                Democracy has its origins in Ancient Greece. However other cultures have significantly contributed to the evolution of democracy such as Ancient Rome, Europe, and North America. The concept of representative democracy arose largely from ideas and institutions that developed during the European Middle Ages, the Age of Enlightenment, and in the American and French Revolutions. The right to vote has been expanded in many Jurisdictions over time from relatively narrow electorates, with New Zealand as the first nation to grant universal suffrage for all its citizens in 1893.
 There are several facets of democracy like Direct democracy, Representative, Anticipatory, Non-partisan, Westminster, Soviet or Council democracy.  Islam as we believe is a complete code of life, in some areas it grants due freedom to its believers, as in the political sphere the decision for choosing the form of government has been left for the people, provided that the described requirements for vicegerency are met and the sovereignty lies with Allah alone. Secondly, the Islamic government is never theocratic. It is formed by mutual consent, and conducts most of its affairs by consensus and consultation.  

 It is rather more imperative to fulfill the conditions of vicegerency than contemplating on how the government should be formed. The original concept of Islamic rule is closer to democracy. It is an anti-thesis of monarchial, theocratic, and autocratic forms of government. It slightly differs from the western secular democracy and lays more stress on sovereignty of GOD, equality, justice and fair play, and does not allow any form of exploitation. Hence, in essence and soul democracy is not un-Islamic. All are equal but some are superior on behalf of piety.

Exploring the last 63 years of Pakistan, democracy is taken as a comic relief between military regimes. Assassination of Liaquat Ali Khan, the first elected Prime Minister, was in fact the demise of democracy in Pakistan. Since then, the balance of power tilted in the favor of the military. A comparison depicts this shift. From 1951-57 India had one Prime Minister and several army chiefs while during the same period Pakistan had one army chief and several Prime ministers. The same army chief, Ayub Khan promulgated the first martial law in 1958. General Ayub Khan could not withstand a popular national movement and transferred power to General Yahya Khan in March 1969. Under him Pakistan lost its half, which is now known as Bangladesh. Power was then transferred to Zulfikar Ali Bhutto as the first civilian martial law administrator. Bhutto pursued an independent policy, but he was charged for compliance in murder, and hanged by the next martial law administrator, General Zia UL Haq. Hanging of an elected Prime Minister perturbed the whole world. The general died in a mysterious plane crash. Then came a ten years fad of the so-called democracy. During this period, none the elected government completed its term on account of being ousted by the special discretionary powers of the president. An end to this ten-year spell came with a new general, who ousted the incumbent elected government. This time the Prime Minister was charged for conspiring against the state and was expatriated from the country. Democracy was again restored in 2008 and now it has been hijacked by the dictatorial democrats.
The spirit of unity, cohesion and commitment shown during Pakistan movement evaporated just after the emergence of Pakistan, and self centered knavish politician indulged themselves in the fiendish politics that was against the true spirit of democracy. Having ascertained the weakness and egocentric attitude of the politicians, the military-bureaucratic nexus crawled out of the woodwork and took the de-facto control of the country. Since then military-bureaucratic establishment directly or indirectly governed the country. Army generals usurp power at their own convenience and quit only when they are forced to quit by mass political movements or by a sudden unexpected death.
It is a dilemma that they came up to uproot corruption and social evils but actually they weeded out the seeds of democracy. Disgruntled by the ostensible democracy, the people started to believe in the forthcoming miracles of some incoming Messiah from the ranks of soldiers. In the end, they always found themselves more disappointed by the 'short-sighted' Generals than by the 'corrupt' politicians. In order to prolong their rule, dictators try to establish a controlled democracy and more often, they choose the worst lot of politicians. This covert or overt influence of army is the greatest impediment to the evolution of a stable democratic system in Pakistan.
In addition to this, the military rulers strengthened the bureaucracy for securing their own rule. Having established a permanent role in the establishment, the bureaucrats and generals preferred to compromise with the feudal system. The military rulers were thought to curb them in the beginning but instead of nipping them in the bud they also compromised with them to prolong their own rule. Similarly, the feudal cum politicians avail opportunities to beguile the gullible masses. In such circumstances, even universal suffrage could not be effective and non-political powers began to play a more assertive role. Consequently, the leaders and politicians become the brainchild of the military and bureaucratic nexus and since Quaid’s demise, no true leader could rise to fill the void.
Democracy presupposes an understanding of issues. The sine qua non for a Western-style democratic system is education, which means that the people must be educated to a level to understand the issues so that they can make a meaningful choice. Unfortunately, literacy rate in Pakistan is a mere fraction, even the most optimistic estimates believe it to be less than 50 percent. An illiterate person is like an aimless wanderer, who lacks a clear vision, consequently fells an easy prey to the caste related vote canvassing.  Moreover, Pakistani society is divided along the fissures and faults of caste and sects that has retarded it to act like a cohesive unit and concentrate only on issues. Under such circumstances, caste, sect and creed sentiments are exploited by the unscrupulous politicians. 
Paul Collier in "5 myths about the beauty of the ballot box" has cited $2,700 per capita income as a threshold to democracy. Researchers have found democracies to be more effective and less prone to violence above this threshold, but below that, less effective and more violent. The same study shows that election misconduct is more likely in countries with low per capita incomes, rich in natural resources, and a lack of institutional checks and balances. Pakistan has a nominal per capita income of just $1, 067 and about one-fifth of population lies below the poverty line that struggles more for earning sustenance rather than concentrating on the political issues, and if they ever do, they believe more in the conspiracy theories rather than underlying issues.  Consequently they are oblivious of major developments and prove to be credulous masses.
Democracy does not guarantee equality of conditions - it only guarantees equality of opportunityIrving Kristol

 The political leaders lack a clear vision and they never had the capacity to alleviate the status of democracy and strengthen it, in fact the mutual squabbling of the political leaders excited the other players to assume a role. Moreover, in Pakistan the politics is more personality-driven rather than issues-driven, which has an overall negative impact on the evolution of independent institutions and has fanned the vested interests. Political parties are mere puppet in the hands of different families and party elections are considered taboo and it seems that political parties have dictatorship at their own core!
 Another important cause has always been the constitutional crisis and absence of rule of law apparatus. Similarly, the several amendments in the constitution concentrated power in the President, which was against the democratic soul. There is still need for intact constitution. Interruption in the democratic process has never allowed democracy to form a base. Even with its flaws, the elected government has a right to complete its tenure without any hurdles.

Last but not least, the current stream of extremism and terrorism has brought forth a new ideology. The bearers of this new ideology of governance consider democracy as non-Islamic. They only harbor the westernized concept of democracy and they misguide people by pleading them to abandon democratic system and demand for imposition of Sharia, they are unmindful of the fact that a democratic system can flourish under the aegis of Sharia.

The aforementioned transgressions of different institutions, vested interests of different stakeholders and cavalier attitude on part of the general masses have ruined the state structure of Pakistan. Under the direct military rule, only the elite benefited from the system and this gave rise to economic disparity, while no benefit was being passed over to the general public. History is witness to the fact that Pakistan has lost territory while under direct military rule. The dictators’ hawkish attitude has fanned various separatist movements across the country. Absence of Democracy is a significant reason for nurturing terrorism in a country. A democratic government is supposed to represent the people and provide political means to voice grievances, hence essentially providing a sphere where terrorism has no place. Democracy is necessary to peace and undermining the forces of terrorismBenazir Bhutto.  For this reason, in theory, there 'cannot' be an aggrieved group that is not adequately represented; but absence of democracy and areas outside the realm of democratic setup in Pakistan has proved conducive to terrorism.
 Democratic setup through different checks and balances ensures transparency, fair play and good governance. But these characteristics do not pop out with just the imposition of democratic system rather these evolve over time. Since democratic setup was de-railed again and again, so these fruits of democracy were never seen in Pakistan and consequently, the institutions are underdeveloped and resultantly sporadic democratic periods were infested with bad governance. With the weak institutions and rampant interference in other institutions’ portfolios have resulted in massive corruption, which is a peculiar stigma to democracy in Pakistan. As an outcome of these mal-practices, national economy has gone virtually bankrupt and national budget has become dependent on foreign aid.
  In true democracy, political leaders derive their power from the people thus they are intrepid and assume more audacious visions, consequently the respective country forms an independent foreign policy that best suits its interests but feeble democracy is devoid of these characteristics. Pakistan has so-far failed to furnish its independent foreign policy, with faint support in their own country; political leaders are swayed by the world powers, thus they undermine the national interests and sovereignty of the country. Wiki-leaks speaks high of their sincerity and caliber in this regard.
All the ills of democracy can be cured by more democracy- Alfred E. Smith (42nd governor of New York)

 Though democracy has failed many times to establish its firm roots in Pakistan, but every dark cloud has a silver lining, all these failures actually provide us an insight into what went wrong and how democracy can be preserved from de-railing next time.   The first essential step seems to stop interruption in the democratic process and the elected government must be allowed to complete its tenure in any case. Secondly, a major chunk of the population wants greater Islamic character in the democratic setup and legislation. Incorporating true Islamic injunctions will lead to a more cohesive civil society and will foil any attempts by the extremists to paint that democracy is antithesis to Islamic form of government. We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools Martin Luther King, Jr.

 There is a need to reform the judiciary, in the presence of an independent judicial system, the discrepancies are kept in check thus it ensures enduring democracy. Reforming the judiciary and incorporating the Islamic laws can also soothe the deprived and poor masses which have been manipulated by the extremists. Moving on, corruption and selfish attitudes is eating away the institutional structure of our country and such mal-practices never allowed democracy to flourish. There is a need to engineer an accountability mechanism, so that these wrong-doings are kept in check.

Common man was compelled by the existing setup to stay away from contesting an election. Hitherto it was a prerogative of the affluent and feudal classes; such practices are against the moral, democratic and Islamic principles. The necessary ingredient for the success of democracy in Pakistan is the emancipation of the rural areas from the clutches of the local landlords, i.e. to take steps for the abolition of 'Jagirdari' System. The criteria of merit; the right of freedom and equal progress for common people should be promoted. Young and morally upright persons should come forward and actively take part in democratic setup and elected member must be nurtured with the notion that they have to serve the nation and they have to bail out this nation.  A leader is a dealer in hopeNapoleon Bonaparte

There is a dire need to strengthen the public institutions, in order to ensure the supremacy of law so that rules govern the country rather than the personalities. The glaring example of many European countries may be quoted, where institutions enjoy the ultimate powers. Democracy in actuality can only be achieved through such measures. Our constitution has been a source of constant controversy. Now onward, no one in power should be allowed to change it for prolongation of rule or appeasing any particular section. Absolute power corrupts absolutely.
The credulous masses were an easy prey to the mercenary politicians, had they been educated, they must have asked the elected members for their rights denied, opportunities curtailed and for defrauding the tax-payers money. Imparting education on a national scale will galvanize the masses to form a check on political leadership. The political energy in Pakistan is extravagantly wasted on inter-provincial squabbling. There is a dire need to get the nation out of the rut of provincialism, so that they feel proud on being Pakistani and strive for the cause of Pakistan thus strengthening the institutions and democracy in the country.

 In a democratic state, media has rightly been called the fourth pillar of the state. It can play a more vibrant, positive and constructive role rather than becoming another compromised institution. Information is the currency of democracyThomas Jefferson
 Finally, the strategic position and now the war against terror has brought Pakistan in the limelight of the international community, so international community should help Pakistan in establishing a workable democratic system or should at least stay away from anointing the dictators, but it is only possible through the visionary and sagacious approach of the media.

 The world has ultimately come to a conclusion after having experimented different forms of government like Monarchy, Oligarchy, military or civil Dictatorships etc. These governments failed despite sincere wishes of the individual leaders who came to the fore through any of these Processes. In line with the lessons of history and despite all its past experiences of failure, there is no other messianic way out to lead Pakistan toward a progressive state except to establish the roots of democracy firmly. Democracy is not only a form of government; it is a philosophy which encompasses all aspects of rights and freedom. In Pakistan, however, the already difficult situation has been aggravated by constant failures which never let democracy to survive. The positive change is still slow, but a bleak past or murky present in no way means a foredoomed future as well. However, colossal efforts at every level are required for democracy to take root. In all this hopelessness, there must be a desire for moving forward. The future of democracy may be doubtful but it not at an end yet.
The road to democracy may be winding and is like the river taking many curves but eventually the river will reach the oceanChen Shui-Bian(10th and 11th-term President of the Republic of China)

No wonder, decades of domestic political chaos and projected external vulnerability have kept our national priorities lop-sided with more than one-third of our annual budget being used for our “defence expenditure.” Fractured institutions and strong personalities continued to scamper around and speak directly to the leadership in different voices. This led to no or a confused policy.
Our foremost priority is to fix the fundamentals of our governance. We need domestic consolidation through democracy based on constitutional supremacy, institutional integrity and independent judiciary, rule of law, accountability & good governance. We must not make any compromise on principles & national interests. We need to regain and preserve our sovereign independence.
Our leaders must give-up the Macro Polo culture. We should also do away with the system of perks and privileges for civil-military officials and parliamentarians. No more distribution of state land or plots for anyone. No begging. We must opt for self-reliance and national dignity. No more blind faith in the so-called “friends of Pakistan.” Lets be our own friends. Let’s ourselves take care of Pakistan.
We need a low profile foreign policy formulated through institutional rather than personal approach with greater focus on domestic political, economic and social consolidation. In doing so, we could best serve our interests by following Hafiz Shirazi’s advice for “Kindness to friends”, “courtesy to enemies” with equal faith in Allama Iqbal’s message of “self-pride, self-confidence and self dignity.”
                Let us hope for a bright future for:
                “Every dark cloud has a silver lining.”
Or as Shelly says in his poem,
“Ode to the West wind”
“The trumpet of a prophecy! O wind’
If winter comes, can spring be for behind!”  

(Words 3876)

Why Pakistanis lost faith in democracy?

| 11th July, 2012
A recent poll of six Muslim countries revealed that Pakistanis by far were the least likely to favour democracy. Compared with Turkey, where 71 per cent of the respondents favoured democracy, only 42 per cent of Pakistanis held the same view.
A recently released report by the Pew Research Centre showed that unlike Pakistan, the overwhelming majority of respondents in the other five Muslim majority countries preferred democracy.  And while Pakistanis demonstrated a half-hearted appreciation for democratic principles, an overwhelming majority (82 per cent) expressed preference for the laws to follow the Quranic injunctions. In comparison, only 60 per cent of Egyptians wanted their laws to follow Quran.
These statistics may lead some to believe that Pakistanis may be following the fundamentalist Taliban or al Qaeda. This, I would argue, will be an erroneous conclusion, which ignores the complex socio-economic realities of Pakistan.
Given that the democratic rule and institutions have been in place in Pakistan since 2008 and that the democratic forces have, more than once, prevailed over military dictatorship in Pakistan, the lack of enthusiasm from democracy amongst Pakistanis should be a concern for all.  At the same time one wonders why the remaining 58 per cent Pakistanis no longer see democracy as the preferred system of governance.
‘It’s the economy, stupid’
A careful review of the Pew survey offers hints of why democracy is no longer favoured by most Pakistanis. It appears that James Carville’s adage “It’s the economy, stupid” also holds true for Pakistan where 58 per cent of Pakistanis preferred strong economy over a good democracy (34 per cent). While I see the two as not mutually exclusive, still Pakistanis appear more prudent to prefer bread, clothing, and shelter over empty promises of the same from the beneficiaries of the electoral processes.
The Zardari government, which came to power in 2008, is partially responsible for people losing faith in democracy in Pakistan. Their mismanagement and poor governance has made the lives of ordinary Pakistanis difficult who now live in a country where water and power supplies are intermittent at best, law and order do not exist, and unemployment amongst the youth has reached unprecedented highs.
In 2007, when Pakistan was ruled by a military dictator, 59 per cent of Pakistanis expressed faith in the nation’s economy. A mere 9 per cent of Pakistanis today are optimistic about their economic outlook. Pakistan’s civil bureaucracy and political leadership of all stripes must wonder why most Pakistanis were confident about the state of the nation’s economy under a military dictator and why more than 90 per cent of Pakistanis have no faith in the nation’s economy when the electoral democracy prevails in the country. In fact, 43 per cent Pakistanis today believe that the economic situation in the country will worsen over the next year; hardly a reason to celebrate democracy in Pakistan.

-Source: Pew Research Center’s Global Attitudes Project.
Is the fundamentalist Islam the answer?
If democracy is not their preferred model of governance, do Pakistanis favour a Taliban style fundamentalist Islamic state? After all, 62 per cent of Pakistanis, up from 46 per cent in 2010, would like to see Islam play a major role in politics.
These numbers may give some comfort to the leaders of Pakistan Defence Council (PDC). However, their optimism in these numbers will be extremely misguided. An overwhelming majority of Pakistanis is distressed about the sorry state of economic affairs. Given that PDC has nothing more to its credit than holding rallies and marches, the electorate is unlikely to handover the government to clerics who have nothing to show for economic plans.
Pakistanis, unlike the respondents in other Muslim majority countries, deserve a lot of credit for not becoming entangled in the rhetoric of the fundamentalist groups. Note that only 13 per cent of Pakistanis holds a favourable view of al Qaeda and the Taliban. In comparison, one in five Egyptians holds a favourable view of al Qaeda and the Taliban. At the same time, 39 per cent of Egyptians and 44 per cent Jordanians hold a favourable view of Hamas and one in every two Tunisians also favours Hamas.
What then, explains the enigma that 82 per cent of Pakistanis want to have their laws adhere to the Quran, but only 13 per cent support the Taliban and others who champion similar causes.  The answer to this question is rather complex. I am of the view that Pakistanis see Islam as a benevolent religion and by following its principles they believe they may be able to restore justice and prosperity in the country. This may be the reason that while being religious, still an overwhelming majority of Pakistanis do not conform to the orthodoxies portrayed as the religion by al Qaeda and the Taliban.
Do Pakistanis recognise democracy?
I wonder at times if Pakistanis understand what democracy truly entails. Is it merely the electoral outcomes that constitute democracy in their minds or is it the all-encompassing manifestation of respect, freedom, and equity that one would associate with the very idea of democracy. Pakistanis appear rather confused about even the electoral manifestation of democracy.  Consider that in the Pew survey 52 per cent of Pakistanis believed that the Saudi Arabian government supported democracy in the Middle East. It is rather absurd to think that the Saudi government promotes democracy in the region while it shuns the same practice at home and even denies women the right to drive a car.
Consider also the fact that 63 per cent of Pakistanis believe holding free and fair elections to be very important, yet only 28 per cent of Pakistanis value free media. The rest would rather see print and electronic media censored. At the same time, only one in five Pakistanis supports unbridled access to the Internet. Democracy rests on having free and unbridled access to, and exchange of, ideas and information. If the overwhelming majority of Pakistanis would rather censor media and the Internet, and therefore prevent open debate, their desire to hold free elections may remain an unrealised dream.
Whereas Pakistanis continue to hold conflicting objectives for democracy they also suffer from the Messiah syndrome. Instead of striving to build democratic institutions, a large number of Pakistanis would prefer to wait for a strong leader who may one day turn their fortunes around.  When asked to choose between a democratic government or a strong leader, 61 per cent of Pakistanis opted for a strong leader over democracy. This is hardly productive. No one man can fix the nation, especially when democratic principles are not embedded in the social fabric.
Democracy will prevail in Pakistan if and when the democratic and human rights of women and other disenfranchised groups are recognised and protected. This, however, is not the case today. Consider the fundamental human right of women to choose their own spouse, which (according to the Pew survey) is supported by a mere 11 per cent of Pakistanis. The remaining 89 per cent believe that the family should choose the spouse for the woman. This is dictatorial to say the least, resulting in a direct conflict between what is desired at the household level and what is preferred for the nation.
As long as Pakistanis (mostly male) continue to dictate choices for their daughters, sisters, and other women in the family or in the neighbourhood, they continue to be part of the microcosm of dictatorship, which when aggregated to the national level will never transform into true democracy.
The challenge therefore is to embrace democracy in all its manifestations rather than cherry-picking the democratic norms that conform to the tribal practices.

Murtaza Haider, Ph.D. is the Associate Dean of research and graduate programs at the Ted Rogers School of Management at Ryerson University in Toronto. He can be reached by email at

Why Fragile Democracy in Pakistan?

by Sajjad Shaukat
Democracy which has displayed its success in the west has proved the fragile form of government in Pakistan. Therefore, it is generally said that “any instrument can be misused.”
Although various mal-practices such as horse-trading, nepotism, bribery, illegal obligation etc. are very common in Pakistan’s politics, yet corruption of our politicians has exposed on October 19, this year when in its judgment in the Air Marshal (r) Asghar Khan case (The curious case of the Mehran Bank scandal, which is now commonly known as the Asghar Khan case has taken an important position in Pakistan’s judicial history. Air Marshal Asghar Khan, in 1996, had written a letter to then Chief Justice Nasim Hasan Shah against former army chief, General Mirza Aslam Baig, former ISI chief Lieutenant General  Asad Durrani and Younis Habib of Habib and Mehran Banks, relating to the disbursement of public money and its misuse for political purposes. On the basis of Asghar Khan’s petition, Lieutenant General (Retd.) Asad Durrani took the stand in the Supreme Court and provided an affidavit that the army had indeed distributed Pak Rs. 140 million to anti-PPP political candidates only a few months before the October 1990 general election.), the Supreme Court of Pakistan directed the government to take action against former Army Chief Gen. (r) Aslam Baig and former Chief of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Asad Durrani for distributing millions of rupees among anti-Pakistan People’s Party politicians in the 1990 elections. The Court ordered that investigation should be initiated by the FIA against all the politicians who received money which should be recovered. The court also ruled that former Mehran Bank chairman Younas Habib should also be dealt in the same manner.
In this regard, former head of Mehran Bank, Younis Habib had disclosed before the Supreme Court on March 8, 2012 that former president Ghulam Ishaq Khan and former Army Chief Gen. Mirza Aslam Beg pressurised him to arrange Rs. 1.48 billion, out of which Rs. 400 million were distributed among anti-PPP politicians to influence the elections of 1990. Habib claimed that the bank account numbers in which the money transferred was also provided by Gen. Aslam Beg.
Younis Habib had revealed that Rs. 340 million were given to form Islami Jamhuri Ittehad (IJI)), and Rs. 3.5 and Rs. 2.5 million were given to Nawaz Sharif and Shahbaz Sharif respectively, and to Jamaat-e-Islami Rs. 5 million including Aftab Sherpao who was given a “bigger amount.” Besides, during the Mehrangate investigations, Younis Habib had disclosed that other political figures also received money.
He stated that the money paid to the politicians was nothing less than a bribe, admitting that taking or giving bribe was a sin—“Bribe leaves no trace behind.”
Former ISI Chief Gen. Asad Durrani on March 10 also admitted before the Supreme Court that on the instructions of Gen. Mirza Aslam Beg, he distributed money among politicians of IJI to counter the PPP.
However, as regards the Mehran Bank money case, ISI simply obeyed the orders of the then head of the government by opting to obey the lawful command.
Despite the evidence and recent verdict of the apex court, leaders of all the mainstream parties and almost famous political figures denied the receipt of money, but this new development has clearly exposed the corruption of country’s politicians who claim to be representatives of the people in the national and provincial assemblies. Now a debate has opened over the media, showing as to how leaders get votes and deceive public mandate.
Another major cause of weak democracy in Pakistan is that rival political leaders always raise allegations and counter-allegations against each other. In the present situation, while campaign has almost started for the forthcoming elections, the rulers of the PPP have said that other major parties, especially the PML-N rigged the elections 1990, and they should deposit the amount in the national exchequer as received by them. On the other side, PML-N and other anti-PPP leaders are emphasising President Asif Ali Zardari regarding the corruption in relation to the NRO-Swiss bank accounts. In this context, Chairman Imran Khan of PTI has been targeting both the PML-N and PPP as corrupt parties.
Baseless blame game of the politicians could be judged from the Governor Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Syed Masood Kausar who allegedly stated on October 27 that the Punjab government had covert links with terrorists.
Notably, while speaking about Memogate case, on December 22, 2011, the ex-Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani, without naming army and ISI, presumed that conspiracies were being hatched to topple the democratically elected government. Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan of the PML-N had also stated that martial law would not be accepted in the country.
In that backdrop, Chief of Army Staff Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani stated on December 23, “The Pakistan Army has and will continue to support democratic process in the country.” On March 6, 2008, Gen. Kiyani had clearly remarked, “The army would stay out of the political process.” He is still acting upon the principle of non-interference in political affairs.
Nevertheless, without grasping realities, our politicians have manipulated every issue like the Memogate case, Mehrangate verdict, NRO scandal, missing persons of Balochistan, military operation in Waziristan, incident of Malala Yousafzai etc., not only to disrepute country’s key security intuitions, but also against each other so as to misguide the common men to increase their voting lists.
Feeble democracy in Pakistan is also due to some other factors. In this respect, a blind dedication to ones own race, tribe, creed and community creates hatred in one group against the other, which ends in violence. Regional and provincial political leaders exploit these disparities which have hindered the smooth working of democracy.
Concentration of wealth in few hands has created a privileged class of landowners and industrialists who contest elections winning the same against each other again and again. By dominating the political parties, they have dominated the politics of the country and have always sacrificed national interests for their personal gains. During the election campaign, they employ all means, fair or foul to defeat their opponents and capture political power. They mislead the general masses through, false propaganda and exaggerated speeches.
It is our misfortune that our political parties have worked on undemocratic principles like hostility for the sake of hostility, formation of alliances and counter-alliances to win the elections. Much time is wasted in retaliation against the previous government instead of fulfilling the promises, made with the voters during election campaign. While perusing the politics of revenge, they forget the real aim of public mandate by resolving the economic and social problems of the masses. In this regard, they also misguide the general masses by forming extreme opinion among them towards their opponents. Therefore, people who support these political leaders as a symbol of success of their favourite parties, feel pleasure at the failure of their rival parties. Past experience displays that very soon an alliance of different parties is formed to launch a mass movement against the elected government, ultimately leading to military rule in the country.
Unlike the western democracies, it is owing to the lack of pr-conditions for the success of democracy like education, good citizenship, active role of people in public affairs, external vigilance and political consciousness among general masses that they become an easy prey to shrewd politicians who use them for their own self-interests.
Particularly, on our media, most of the TV channels conduct controversial debate between politicians and commentators by exploiting every issue without bothering for the integrity of the country.
At this critical juncture, Pakistan is facing multi-faceted crises such as soaring prices, loadshading, unemployment, crimes, lack of health facilities etc. Besides, the country has perennially been facing subversive activities in Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Karachi including other cities as arranged by the foreign secret agencies like CIA, RAW and Mossad. While country’s security forces are coping with militants in some tribal areas in wake of terrorists’ assaults on their ceckposts, which killed several personal of Pak Army. In this context, our politicians and media analysts opine as to what the people want, but conceal as to what people actually need?
Instead creating a selfless unity among all the segment of society including cooperation with the security agencies, regrettably, our political entities are further complicating all the related-problems to increase their vote bank in the coming elections—also unintentionally assist the external enemies of Pakistan.
Nonetheless, despite the ambitions of people who nourished democratic ideals, we could not set up this system on a strong footing due to irresponsible approach of our political entities. Hence, democracy remains fragile, working in uncertainty.
Sajjad Shaukat writes on international affairs and is author of the book: US vs Islamic Militants, Invisible Balance of Power: Dangerous Shift in International Relations

Failure of Democracy in Pakistan: Causes and Solution

14 December, 2011

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Pakistan came into being before 60 year almost but still endeavoring to develop the institution of politics in its society. The founding father of this country, Mr. Jinnah, achieved this country democratically and constitutionally. Unfortunately destiny did not give enough time to him to draw the socio – economic, religious and political map of newly born state. During early 21 years of its life - 1947 to 1969 - Pakistan was governed by civil – military bureucracy under oligarchic and authoritarian traditions. This was first chapter of dictatorship. Second and third one were during 1979 to 1988 and 1999 to 2007 under military dictators.

First democratic election held in 1970 and a uninanimous constitution was passed by parliament in 1973 in which, democratic parliamentary government system was introduced. So here started first democratic phase (1970 – 1979) under the inspiring leadership of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto. Second and third phases of democracy were between 1988 to 1999 and 2007 to the present date. So democratic era in Pakistan is almost 24 years. During this time, elected leaders proved themselves as a comprehensive failure and they were and they are failed to deliver to the public. Why democratic traditions are not developed in Pakistan up till now? What were and what are the major causes behind failure of democracy here? Now I will explain it. 

Causes of failure of democracy in Pakistan lies in our socio - political system. Feudalism, illiterate and apathetic people, self – imposed leaders and inherited politics are a few salient features of this system. It's a feudal state where we are living and most of our political leaders are just feudal lords and they and have assumed and established their identity as political leaders. Feudalism has been leading towards the traditions of inherited politics as well in this country. In this feudal culture, millions of people are landless and illiterate peasants and their social status is not more than a slave. In addition to this, such landless peasants community is living in acute poverty. Auctoritas of this community is not even accordance with the minimum standards of human rights. How can such impoverished, deprived and economically marginalized peasants community can express their will freely in a democratic process? The essence of democracy lies in the general will of the public. So during election, such community is supposed to express the will of the feudal lords. May be due to their lack of knowledge or the fear of the landlord, landless peasants do so. In such circumstances, can we expect from landless rural peasants that they are able to evaluate the credibility of their so – called leaders and the manifesto of political parties before voting? I don't think so they are able to do this. Almost 70% population of Pakistan leading life in such feudal and rural traditions. Consequently, general election becomes a selection of a few based upon the will of a few who are powerful and leading a privileged life. In this way, democracy has been reduced to oligarchy and aristocracy in our country. 

In our democratic set up, our elected leaders even visit their constituencies for a for a few times as they have no any concern with the welfare of the deprived communities. As a result, firstly they don't want to know about community problems at grass root level and secondly, they are unable to find out solutions of them. 

So far as illiteracy is concerned, it is also a major root cause behind the failure of democracy in Pakistan. Literacy is the very first and the most important pre – requisite for democracy. Accordingly the Census of 1998, literacy rate of Pakistan was 43.92%.and literacy rate among rural community of Pakistan was 33.64% in 1998. But these are official and manipulated statistics which are unable to paint the real picture of our population. Actual literacy rate is even below than these figures particularly in rural areas. So maximum part of our population is still suffering in the vicious cycle of illiteracy and they are unable to contribute anything towards the development of Pakistan. Illiteracy also leads to poverty. An illiterate and economically impoverished community has only concern with bread and butter and they cannot comprehend and follow the true spirit of democracy. As a result, such community gives guns in the hands of monkeys by electing irrelevant persons who are not competent enough to cope with the contemporary national and international challenges. On the other hand, our leaders are always busy in pillaging the national resources and throwing dust into eyes of ignorant and slave people. Another beautiful manifestation of illiteracy is that most of our politicians contest election on the base of fake degrees. In such morally corrupt and illiterate nation, how democracy can flourish and become functional here?

I discussed two major causes of failure of democracy in Pakistan. So far as current democratic government is concerned, it has been failed comprehensively to deliver as well. Democracy is here now but in a failed and a flopped form. It has become just a slogan of exploitation in Pakistan and nothing else. A democratic government is required to do provide justice, social welfare and security to the public. But in the present setup, government has not perceived or made any such integrated package for the nation. On the other hand, corruption and embezzlement are in full swing now. There is no security for the citizens and people are being killed like rats on the name of target killing. Suicide due to poverty and unemployment has become so common now. Now in 2011, in Pakistan, maximum population comprising youth. But there is no jobs and employment for them and they are being underutilized. The sovereignty of our country and land has been simply auctioned to the Uncle Sam and Pakistan has been reduced to a colony of Ammerica. In such a way, all the state departments and institutions have been failed from bottom to top. When Pakistani public is fed up with the governance of corrupt democratic government, then sometimes they propagate that there was enough prosperity during previous military regimes and there is no doubt, military coups of the past were the consequence of failed democratic governments.

But issue is that our democratic rulers are not divine and we as a nation elect them. How we can challenge their aunthticity? Yes we cannot and they are our representatives. When general public will be socially impoverished, deprived and illiterate, it will produce incompetent, opportunist and corrupt leadership. Such leaders just exploit people and they secure their vote bank on the name of democracy. Our leaders assert that they are for the people but actually, they entertain their vested interest only. Provision of social welfare, education and justice is not their priorities. The priorities of our gluttonous leadership are to secure Swiss Bank Accounts, flats in London and Saray Mahal only. Unfortunately such attitude has become modus operandi of our politicians. 

At the end, I want to give some recommendations and accoutrements which are inevitable to make democracy a successful saga in Pakistan and to strengthen the fraternity of the nation in general. Sweatshops of feudalism should be closed and traditions of inherited politics must be abolished. Education and social liberty should be given to the all nation in general and to the rural community in particular. There should be social equality, justice and rule of law across the country. Irrespective of their social status and level of wealth, all the citizens should be considered equally accountable of their deeds. Youth must be promoted and young, energetic and educated people should be encouraged in every sphere of life. When our nation will be literate and social freedom will be there, then genuine and competent leadership will emerge from bottom of our society and it will focus on the social welfare and security of general public and sovereignty of our land. A successful execution of all these pragmatic measures may can lead towards a strong democratic Pakistan in true sense and this task is not insurmountable. Otherwise game of Chess between politicians and Military will continue as it was in the past.

Why is democracy not delivering for Pakistan?

Published: June 24, 2012
The writer is a former vice-president of the World Bank and a former caretaker finance minister of Pakistan
I will begin by stating a number of simple yet important premises: that democracy is good for development and sustainable economic growth; for a more equitable distribution of the fruits of growth; for giving people with diverse and seemingly irreconcilable interests and objectives the opportunity to resolve their differences; for providing the citizenry with the outlets they can use to express their frustrations; and it helps those states that practice it to live in peace with their neighbours. If these are self-evident truths, one would expect Pakistan to have benefitted in several different ways from the return of democracy. The move from a controlled political system dominated for long by the military, to one that is more open and in which the making of public policy is entrusted to the chosen representatives of the people should have produced greater human welfare. But it does not seem to be working out that way.
Out of the five benefits of democracy listed above — and there are many more — that should flow once it is adopted as the preferred form of governance, only two have produced satisfactory results for Pakistan thus far. After decades of wrangling with India, Pakistan has begun to develop better and less adversarial relations. These may result in an arrangement that puts greater emphasis on producing economic benefits for both sides. Most citizens, today, are worse off than they were four years ago, when the political system began to change. But there is no widespread rebellion against the state. The other three positive outcomes from the above list have not been evident since the beginning of 2008, when the country began to pull away from military rule. As the country prepares to hold another general election in late 2012 or early 2013, the present rate of growth has slowed to a point where it is slightly greater than the rate of increase in the population. Meaning, not much is being added to the national product so that those who occupy the lower rungs of the income distribution ladder cannot draw benefits from the little economic change that is occurring. In fact, the distribution of income has worsened since 2008. Does this mean that democracy has failed in Pakistan; that for some reasons peculiar to the make-up of the country, democracy has not delivered what it is supposed to provide to those who chose it as the preferred form for their governance?  The short answer to this question is ‘no’. But the question needs a longer answer as to why democracy seems to be failing and cannot provide the expected benefits in Pakistan. We can pick some clues from the large and growing literature dealing with the workings of democracy around the globe. Political scientists have been investigating this subject for decades. They have approached it from many different angles — by carrying out comparative country analyses and by tracing the evolution of democracy over time. The historical perspective has yielded as many insights into the impact of democracy on economic development as did country comparisons. The main conclusion most analysts have reached is that it takes time — several decades, sometimes even centuries — before democracy is fully established. Only then can its full benefits be realised.
Even economists have moved beyond the comfort provided by their much more rigorous discipline to introduce new factors other than capital and labour for producing growth. They have now expanded their production functions to include a number of essentially non-economic contributors. The list of these contributors keeps growing and now includes the development of the available human resource, technological advancement and development of institutions. It is the inclusion of institutions as one of the explanatory factors that brings democracy into the economic growth equation. There is a developing consensus among those who work in this discipline that a political order that allows participation to the people – or ‘economic agents’ as they are sometimes called by economists — helps economies to make progress.
In sum, while it is fully understandable why despair is the most common sentiment in evidence in the country today, what is also needed is patience. This advice is easy to give but hard to receive, in particular by those, who are burning in the heat in many parts of the country because of the failure of the state to provide a steady flow of electric power. That said, alternatives — a widespread rebellion, hope for system change etc. — are much worse.
Published in The Express Tribune, 25th, 2012.
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Reader Comments (49)

  • Jun 24, 2012 - 11:29PM
    Democracy is a process of institutional building, collective decision making, conflict management & power sharing. Basically it is a way of allowing all views to be heard as it involves dialogue, discussion, debate, and analysis. Patience & Toleration are fundamental in any democracy because things cannot change overnight. Not a single Muslim Country out of 51 is a successful democracy not only because of interference from other institutions but also because they lack fundamental ingredients (Patience & Toleration) and they are addicted to Messiah Worshiping where they expect their problems to be resolved overnight. THIS is why its not delivering in pakistan because Patience & Toleration are scarce commodity here
  • Max
    Jun 24, 2012 - 11:38PM
    Mr. Burki, Your arguments well taken, we need to keep in mind that democracy is process and not a revolution. This means to reach it at its zenith, it may take centuries. second, democracy is dependent upon indigenous and exogenous factors, i.e, a conducive social and economic environment, a healthy and civic-oriented thought process, individualism instead of collectivism, higher level of education, some affluence, secularism in every sense of the term, an awareness of rights and responsibilities, ability to differentiate between rights and privileges, and not to mention absence of social stratification in terms of individual rights. The list is long and everything cannot be brought up in a few lines.
    Having said this, I would be little careful in calling Pakistani system even a rudimentary form of democracy. Here are the reasons: absence of effective political institutions like political parties and interest groups, cult of personality and our well revered system of Jee Hazoori, rights of inheritance to political offices, and scramble for power/influence/hegemony among state institutions. I am more concerned about the last one than anything else.
    The point is that we need to change our perspectives of things, wake-up and act like a responsible citizen, otherwise we are doomed to die.

Democracy in Pakistan

By: Mohammad Tariq Bucha | May 07, 2012 . 0
Today, the most deceptive and magical slogan is democracy. But what is it and where is it needs to be appraised and seriously debated. If we sincerely probe it in the essence of its definition, it is practically nowhere to be seen any more. The concept of the government of the people, by the people and for the people has been pushed aside and transformed into ‘government of few people , on all people, and not for people’. This transformation of the western type of democracy is proving far more destructive than the dictatorial form of government for the world in general and the Muslim world, in particular. But how?
We must understand that in personal or dictatorial form of government people are ruled by one person and in normal circumstances all decisions are taken with his consent. When a specific party assumes power as a result of obtaining majority in elections, the form of government that follows is branded as democratic, but it is also personal as majority of its decisions are taken and implemented by the leader of the elected house in consultation with a select few (cabinet) and no one dare refuse or dissent. In our case, if anyone differs he or she is branded to have joined the opposition. In the general practical and administrative terms, leader of the house acts sometimes as a leader while mostly as the ordering authority. In fact, this cluster of people i.e. the Parliament is also subservient to the leader of the house i.e. the Prime Minister. Parliament is a group of members, yet this group is one known as the treasury benches who dare not oppose their leader, therefore they jointly become one person to take decision. Whatever law is passed though it is done collectively yet it is approved by majority decision. But no one goes against   the will of the leader of the house. Therefore, practically there is no significance of an individual’s opinion, only majority decision is considered valid and proper. So as explained above being subservient to the will of the leader of the house this collective opinion can easily be an order and by no means a consensus. So in fact while in dictatorial regime rule is by one or single person; in the democratic system rule is by a single party; all the rest are are subservient to that party, e.g. assertive decisions based on democratic authority such as non development expenses and discretionary financial powers make them squander country’s wealth at will considering these to be OPM, other people’s money. Such practices might suggest that one man’s rule is better than the rule of hundreds. However, whether the rule is of one or many, practically there is little freedom in either of the systems. One cannot do what one wishes to do as absolute freedom will result in chaos in the world.
In the personal or dictatorial rule decisions are based on hereditary, family considerations, affiliations or personal whims. In a democratic system elections are held as per term allowed by the constitution of a country. In third world countries, elections result in chaos, enmities, and scuffles leading to murders, besides entailing economic perils. All this results in uncertainty as has been often evident in the subcontinent. In the dictatorial rule there is no precondition of ability and capability. Similarly the person irrespective of ability or capability gets elected on the basis or obtaining maximum votes in a democratic system. Both in dictatorial and democratic system leaders could be good or bad.
The so called advantage of democracy is that it is considered to be the real rule of the people. If there is a consensus on anything good or bad the democratic governments are bound by that decision. Morals and ethics have no value or consideration nor are the decisions necessarily in consonance with any type of sharia. The decisions in a democratic system are based upon only the will of the majority present in parliament where the opinion of an honest, well meaning and capable person has no value. Allah Kareem commands in Holy Quran:
“Thus We have sent it down, being a command in Arabic, And if you follow their desires, after the knowledge that has come to you there shall be neither a friend for you against Allah, nor a saviour
–  (Sura Al Rad ,Part 13,Ayat 37)
One of the most glaring example is of the decision of the majority in western democracy to legalize sodomy though despised even in their and other societies.
Thus In a democratic form of government decisions are not always based on logic; common sense has no value. Allah Kareem regarding the will or desire of the majority of people, commands in Quran,

وَإِن تُطِعۡ أَڪۡثَرَ مَن فِى ٱلۡأَرۡضِ يُضِلُّوكَ عَن سَبِيلِ ٱللَّهِ‌ۚ إِن يَتَّبِعُونَ إِلَّا ٱلظَّنَّ وَإِنۡ هُمۡ إِلَّا يَخۡرُصُونَ (١١٦

 Surah Al-Anaam
If thou obeyedst most of those on earth they would mislead thee far from Allah's way. They follow naught but an opinion, and they do but guess. (116)

“ O Muhammad (pbuh), if you obey the majority of those on earth, they will make you lose the way of Allah. They follow nothing but whims and they do nothing but make conjectures.”
– (Sura Al Anaam, Part 8,Ayat 116)
In the present day democracy, the law making is done by the ruling party, though other parties in parliament also play their role, but because of the majority of the ruling party they have very little say. It is natural, therefore, that in enacting laws personal objectives, inclinations and vested interests might be of primary importance, which, though, might be devoid of justice and equality. The other parties accept them like a bitter pill because they have no choice. This results in continuous bickering mutual running down of each other. As soon as the government changes in a third world country all that has been done is scrapped; the newly elected majority party has its own objectives and motives.
The party in power becomes the master of the country’s fate and through different actions becomes the recipient of state benefits, while the people stand deprived of  them. And at times the ruling party might become absolute and dictatorial in nature and actions.
In one way, the right of appeal of the people is usurped and the ruling party’s decisions are enforced since no one could successfully challenge the government. In other words, this becomes Democratic Martial Law. The only difference being that instead of a single person’s absolute rule, it becomes absolute rule by a collection of persons who have little regard for the law. The case in point is MNAs, MPAs, Senators, etc. Our democratic leaders blatantly flout the law considering it their democratic right to use cars without registration and/or display only their party flags or their parliamentary position.
It seems axiomatic to say that where western democracy becomes fully entrenched, corruption, bad governance and mutual discords ensue. It is thus evident that democracy based on the opinion and support of the majority results in certain evils; for example, man and woman living together without wedlock and legalising sodomy.
In the modern day democracy a new type of trade has emerged i.e. in some cases even for a single vote hundreds of millions are paid to win favour. Because of this no honest or cash strapped can win election. At this I just remember one supplication;
“ O Allah do not force such rulers on us who do not have mercy on us.”
Thus, it clearly shows that if shortcomings of a dictatorial rule are present in democratic system as well, some solution has to be found? In my opinion, it is not Western democracy, but Islamic form of governance or in other words ‘Islamic Democracy’ that should become the norm. But it is easy to say or call for Islamic democracy but rather difficult to define in the modern world’s context?
Islamic form of governance or Islamic Democracy
Islamic form of governance means governance of society based on rules of equity and justice in which the rich and the poor, the powerful and the weak are all treated and dealt with equally. Islamic government is free from the ills and evils of modern day democracy. Although it is somewhat similar to personal or one man rule yet Islamic Democracy is far better than modern day democracies because…
In Islamic Democracy every citizen of the country can question the top leadership whereas in today’s democracy only the elected and that also an opposition member can raise his or her voice.
In Islamic democracy very ordinary citizen can stop the ruler/s in doing an illegal or anti sharia act , whereas in modern democracy it is neither possible nor accepted. Once having cast the vote the nation has to wait for the next elections to counter or check the ruling government.
Thus in Islamic democracy there is personal rule of the old days. The modern day democracy claims that the rule is of the people; while factually once in power the people are totally left at the mercy of the illiterate, uncouth and selfish rulers who can reject their opinion on the strength of majority.
In Islamic form of government you are only required to obey the ruler/s till their actions and orders are in consonance with sharia, but in modern day democracy the rulers supported by the decision of the elected majority, can enforce any law even if it is against the rights or welfare of the people.
Religion of state
There is no government in the world which does not follow any religion. The American, the British, the Europeans follow Christianity, the Russians’ religion is communism, Islamic countries follow Islam and India despite claiming to be following secularism, Hinduism.
Therefore today, if we follow rules of governance purely based upon Islamic principles there is no reason why we cannot introduce such governance which is based on high principles that help the needy and the weak living in Pakistan. It is incumbent upon us, therefore, to adopt the golden principles taught to us in the Holy Quran and explained to us by the Holy Prophet and his companions.
n    The writer is President Malik Khuda Bakhsh Zarai Foundation.


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