Democracy In Pakistan: Of The Elite, For The Elite, By The Elite 

Democracy In Pakistan: Of The Elite, For The Elite, By The Elite 

For the citizens of a democracy, acquiring immunity to eloquence is of highest importance. Russell, Bertrand 

In a democracy, every citizen has an equal voice in making decisions that have an impact on their daily life. This should ideally involve equal (and more or less direct) involvement in the formulation, creation, and enactment of legislation. It may also refer to the social, economic, and cultural frameworks that support the equally and freely exercised right to political self-determination. Even though there isn’t a single, agreed-upon definition of what constitutes a “democracy,” equality and freedom have long been recognised as crucial aspects of this system. All citizens are treated equally before the law and have access to legislative processes as a result of these principles. 

Pakistani Democracy 

In Pakistan, true democracy has never been permitted to flourish. Since the nation’s declaration of independence in 1947, it has always been administered by a military-bureaucratic structure. Army generals grab authority when it suits them and only step down when pressure from large-scale political movements or an unexpected death forces them to. Democracy is given a chance when pushed to do so by internal or external pressures, but in practise, a clique of army generals continues to dominate decision-making. 

The biggest barrier to Pakistan’s evolution of a stable governmental structure is this direct or indirect military involvement. Additionally, our ineffective politicians create the potential for the army to take this mass, not only the army itself. 

Causes for the Failure of Democracy in Pakistan 

Military Rules 

General Ayub, a military dictator, drafted a second constitution in 1962 that was meant to continue as long as he held office. After the division of East Pakistan and a gap of more than 25 years (1947–1973), elected officials under the direction of Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto drafted a consensus constitution that called for a parliamentary system of government and a federal, democratic structure for the nation. 

Despite democracy in Pakistan failing twice, in 1978 and 1999, this constitution has endured and, perhaps, will continue to do so.  

The autocratic authority of the Governor-General was permitted to persist for seven long years (1947–1956), which established this dishonourable precedent and hurt the development of democratic democracy. 

Feudal Culture 

Feudal culture is the second barrier standing in the path of democracy. In the oppressive environment of feudalism, democracy cannot flourish. In the subcontinent, feudalism has a recent past. It has its roots in the independence fight of 1857, when many individuals received sizable parcels of land from the British government in exchange for their treacherous assistance with the latter. When they realised that Pakistan would actually exist and that they would gain power following the founding father’s passing, those feudal families joined the Muslim League. The nation is currently experiencing a severe migraine because of feudalism. Feudalism and democracy cannot coexist. 

Changing the faces behind the wheel has accomplished nothing. Even these feudal rulers control almost 70% of our land, causing the populace to live in misery. Senators, ministers, MPAs, MNAs, and owners of significant businesses in Pakistan are among them. In order to strengthen the political system, several fundamental reforms are urgently needed.  

In actuality, political, military, and bureaucratic elites have ruled Pakistan from its inception. In general, the bureaucratic elite asserted themselves more, slowly gaining influence at the expense of the political elite. During Ayub’s administration (1958–1969), the bureaucracy flourished and was free to use its authority without any political restraints. The fact that as many as seven Prime Ministers had been replaced over the seven-year period between 1951 and 1958 can be used to illustrate the frailty of political elites. 

Four democratically elected governments were overthrown between 1988 and 1999 due to allegations of corruption, inefficiency, security danger, etc. Due to the political parties’ intrinsic weakness and their ineffective leadership, the civil-military bureaucracy has dominated governance, derailing democracy. 

Read More: Capitalism and Neoliberalism- what’s the difference?  What Pakistan should do  – About Pakistan

Western Democracy Against Pakistani Democracy 

The time, opportunities, and resources of the besieged country have reportedly been occupied by three primary interest groups in Pakistan for more than 50 years, if Pakistani democracy is compared to Western democracy. Landlords were chosen by the military, civil service, and neo-colonialists. If there were a rational tolerance scale, the Pakistani country would undoubtedly score highly for its level of tolerance and ability to survive under the worst possible conditions. 

One of the key pillars supporting the idea of Western liberal democracies is that they allow regular citizens the opportunity to participate, right or wrong, to give the election process a sense of legitimacy and select candidates who will manage public affairs for a set period of time.However, the Islamic world and the West have different moral values and standards for what is good and bad. Strangely enough, in Pakistan, persons who enter political office never intend to leave on their own, without the use of military force through a coup. 

Development and Democracy 

The Western-oriented segments of the secular/liberal bourgeoisie, in particular, are justified in imitating a similar democratic political system and holding it to high standards. They do not, however, fully understand the situation because democracy was more than just a political system. It was also a social organising principle whose core values included equality of opportunity, justice, the rule of law, responsibility, protection of fundamental freedoms and rights, gender equality, and minority protection. Giving people the freedom to pick who would represent them in government was meant to ensure that democracy’s central principle of humanism is carried out. A country will never achieve democracy until it demonstrates this fundamental knowledge of it and takes action to put itself on that path. 

Democracy Is Not For Poors of Pakistan 

The more affluent segments of Pakistan’s liberal class see democracy as being simply black or white. ‘Thieves of State’ by Sarah Chayes, on the other hand, is primarily concerned with corruption in Afghanistan and comes to the conclusion that most people’s worries are not really related to democracy. Sarah’s thesis is that a democracy is the finest type of governance since it both fulfils human ambitions for freedom and raises the standard of living for all citizens. When a USAID representative asked Pakistanis if they preferred development or democracy, they said that if democracy led to development, they preferred democracy; if not, they preferred development. 

Pakistan’s Democracy as a Political Tool For Power 

Over the years, Pakistan’s democracy has been the focus of discussion and criticism, with many contending that it has turned into a tool for political power rather than a true form of democratic governance. Although Pakistan has had regular elections since winning independence in 1947, the democratic process has been hampered by the nation’s several instances of military dictatorship. 

The widespread involvement of the military in politics is one of the main problems with Pakistan’s democracy. The military continues to have a substantial impact on politics notwithstanding the nominal handover of power to civilian governments. The history of the nation reflects this, with several instances of military coups and intrusions into civil administration. The military’s power is increased by its control of 

The absence of genuine political rivalry and transparency is another problem. Powerful families rule several of Pakistan’s political parties, using their wealth and clout to keep hold of the reins of government. Allegations of vote-rigging and other anomalies frequently taint elections, further undermining public confidence in the democratic system. 

Overall, the military’s pervasive influence, the absence of meaningful political rivalry, and the lack of transparency in the political system have all harmed Pakistan’s democracy. The country has found it challenging to implement true democratic governance and to deal with the numerous social, economic, and political concerns it faces. While there have been some recent initiatives to support political change and fortify democratic institutions, much more must be done to guarantee that Pakistan’s democracy is really representational and answerable to its people. 

Liberty and Order 

The book “Intelligent Governance for the 21st Century,” by Nicolas Berggruen and Nathan Gardels, challenges the notion that effective government is inextricably linked to the liberal democratic model. The first prime minister of Singapore, Lee Kuan Yew, claimed that the system had become so competitive and confrontational that the opposition spent all of its time preparing to overthrow the ruling party. According to Fareed Zakaria, Singapore adheres to a unique form of liberal constitutionalism in which political freedoms are constrained. The political and governance system of Pakistan is rigged in the interest of the elite, who use the complete freedom provided by a democratic system to play politics at the expense of the general populace. A democratic system has some institutions, but they lack autonomy and integrity. Every day, millions of fine people in Pakistan are riveted to the TV or their phones, watching politicians come and go as if they were going to fix the issues facing the nation. 

Read More: History Of Pakistan: A Brief Timeline – About Pakistan

Democrisation is a Revolutionary Struggle 

The understanding that our current “democracy” will not provide a solution to our issues, regardless of who is in power, is a necessary first step in the revolutionary process of democratization. In many ways, democratization resembles state and nation-building in its arduous nature. How will Pakistan experience this change? There is a much deeper and more complicated debate on this topic. 

There are many great things about Pakistan, including its fortitude, faith-based optimism, sense of exceptionality, robust media, and burgeoning civil society. However, there remain barriers to a true democracy in Pakistan, including an unwarranted emphasis on religion, feudal dominance, education, gender equality, openness to contemporary ideas, and a legitimate political system. To get rid of these impediments and establish a climate that supports democracy, social movements are required. 

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