Wednesday, 28 March 2012

A 'sham' democracy in Pakistan

Democracy in Abraham Lincoln’s words is a “rule for the people, of the people and by the people. It is a form of government in which supremacy of power is vested in the voters collectively and it is administered by them or the officers appointed by them. As far as Pakistan, our closest and most contentious neighbor is concerned, it came into being 64 yrs ago(they celebrate their independence day on august 14th) and it is still endeavoring to develop the institutions of politics in its society. The founding father of this nation Mohammed ali Jinnah achieved it democratically and constitutionally. Unfortunately destiny did not give him enough time to draw the socio-economic, religious & political map of this newly born state. Since its inception, the most difficult challenge Pakistan has struggled to meet has been to establish a true democratic system, which could guarantee its survival, stability and development. The plant of democracy has not taken its roots deep enough to make the country a ‘durable democratic state’. Lately there was a tussle between the pakistan’s elected government & the army and looking at the history of this nation there were predictions that army would again take over the government. Army has always remained the most important driver of pakistan’s destiny. From the very beginning Army has run a parallel government. Where government of pakistan has made it a habit to look up to United States for every assistance, army has always been anti-US. Today pakistan is neither sovereign nor independent. It is a “rentier state”, an American lackey, ill-fed, ill-governed by a corrupt, power hungry people supported by Washington. How can you have democracy in a country where people do not rule and the sovereign power of state resides elsewhere?
“We the people” are the three most important words in the American constitution and “We the people” is a phrase alien to Pakistan. From the beginning it can be noticed that almost every elected head of the state in Pakistan has not died a natural death be it Ayub khan, Zulfikar ali Bhutto or anybody else for that matter. During early 21 years of its life 1947-69 Pakistan was governed by civil-military bureaucracy under oligarchic and authoritarian traditions. This was the first chapter of dictatorship. The first general elections took place in 1970 and a unanimous constitution was passed by the Parliament. Elections are an important virtue of the government, but they are not the only virtue. Democracy does not ends with a ballot, it begins there. Creating a democracy requires a free and independent country, an inviolable constitution and sustained commitment of time and money to develop all the necessary elements. After taking abundance of assistance, Pakistan has become a mere puppet in the hands of U.S. and during all these years government has not considered it necessary to pay heed to the masses. They were left to decay in their surroundings. On the name of Islamic brotherhood, government never has felt essential to think about the issues of illiteracy, infrastructure, industry, commerce, health. Pakistani ‘awaam’ as they refer to the masses has remained cut off from the outside world unaware of what is happening across the globe. After years of military dictatorship followed by sham democracy, the situation in Pakistan has reached such a point that masses are yearning for a radical change. Their suffering is immense as people at the top continue to enrich themselves at the expense of workers & peasants, collaborating with imperialism as it ride through rough-shot over the people of Pakistan. The father of American Republic George Washington once cautioned that ‘an attachment of a small or weak towards a great & powerful nation dooms the former to be a satellite of the latter. No truer words have been spoken on this subject. Pakistan is paying and will continue to pay a very heavy price for the folly of attaching itself to America. The main causes of failure of democracy in Pakistan has been lack of regard for the country’s constitution and misuse of powers. The country’s constitution has been ignored and tampered with again and again. Another reason for the breakup of democratic rule had been the contending political ideologies propagated by political parties. The political profession is much to be blamed for playing the game of political gains and for seeking power instead of serving people and the country. The very purpose of creating Pakistan has been thrown into background. No wonder, people have lost faith in the democratic process, elections are rigged, votes are purchased, known corrupt people, tax-evaders are foistered upon poor, illiterate electorate. Elections throw up not the fittest, not the best and surely not the deserving but the scum of the community only because they are the richest or favorites of people in power. A survey of democracy in Pakistan can’t be completed without the assessing the electorate, the voters who are the makers of democracy. Democracy can never prosper in a country where half of the population is illiterate and is not able to use its votes intelligently. Feudalism, illiterate & apathetic people, self-imposed leaders and inherited policies are salient features of the wretched Pakistani political system which further weakens its constitution.
Aristotle has rightly remarked “To neglect the education of young ones is to weaken the constitution of the country”. Democracy is a function of education and it can’t be managed effectively and justly without sound education of voters and their high level of information. And for this lack of education among Pakistanis, again the government is to be blamed. They are the ones who have never felt it important to open sufficient and accessible educational institutions, thus depriving the common people of even the basic education.  Thus it can be analyzed that it is not the democracy that has failed but the politicians who have failed to run the country on correct democratic principles of equality, justice & fraternity. The remedy I believe lies in the words of Lord Beveridge and  “Power as a means of getting things done appeals to that men share with brutes, to fear & greed; power leads those who wield it to desire for its own sake, not for service it am render, and to seek its continuance on their own hands. Influence as a means of getting things done appeals to that which distinguishes men from brutes. The way out of world’s troubles today is to treat men as men, to enthrone influence over power and to make power revocable.”

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