Future of democracy in Pakistan

Muhammad Arif

Lots of analysts are giving their views on future of democracy in Pakistan. Mostly in 2018 they analysts are attaching everything on the fate and cases against Nawaz Sharif and PML N leaders. They mostly view that by sending Nawaz Sharif behind bars can save democracy in Pakistan. They mostly put burden of corruption on people of Pakistan as to their views the rulers come out from the ambit of people, if they are corrupt than obviously they would get corrupt rulers.
These views are negative and incidentally these writers label people of Pakistan as negative minded people. They are altogether wrong as Pakistan came on the strength of democratic movement led by Quide Azam. Later it was dented by certain despotic regimes that cover most of the years of Pakistan.
There are many examples in Pakistan when certain individuals even gave their lives for democracy. The list is long but Pakistan is still surviving under the shadows of those sacrifices. Few names are Quide Azam himself, his sister Fatima Jinnah, Liuqat Ali Khan, ZA Bhutto, Benazir Bhutto, Mohammed Khan Junejo, Saheed Suharwardi, Minhaj Burna, Nisar Usmani, Major Ishaq, Asma Jillani, Justice AR Coreneilus, Justice Kayani, Justice Hamoodur Rehman, Justice Rana Bhagwan Das, Hassan Nasir, Faiz ahmed Faiz, Habib Jalib. Iqbal Masih (a 12 years boy who fought against child labor) and thousands of those who were either killed by despotic regimes or were lashed on the back. So Pakistan has a great history to have democracy in Pakistan.
Pakistan was created on the basis of Ijtihadi Islam that was captured by religious parties who all opposed creation of Pakistan and turned it in to Taqlidi Islam and entry of despotic regimes in to politics that destroyed strengthening of institutions in Pakistan. Taliban, Religious extremists groups were created that has made the life of common man now highly miserable.
In fact Democracy, a compound of two Greek words namely “Demos” meaning “people” and “Kratos” meaning “rule”, stands for the government of public. It is said to be a ‘government of the people, for the people, by the people’. More plainly, it is to suggest that the real power, termed by Thomas Hobbes as “sovereignty”, lies in the hands of common people in a democratic system. A democracy is often said to be the most challenging form of government, as input from those representing citizens determines the direction of the country. In a democracy, people have the power to make the decisions that affect their daily lives, as opposed to other governing strategies where power is concentrated in the hands of a few.
Here we should not forget that democratic concept has always been based on the modes of production at any time in history. Like even in Greece time, the women and slaves were not entitled to have democratic rights. Than onward in 20th Century everybody is now getting democratic rights at the end of Feudal and Mercantile (Trading) era. Even in UK the women got the right to vote in 1930. Now it is the age of industrial production and even agriculture production flows out of technology. So from economics to politics all concepts have now changed and on verge of further changing.
What we are now witnessing in Pakistani politics is not happening for the first time, yet it’s so debilitating that it feels as if unfortunately democracy has no future in the land of the pure.
In the last twenty years an excessively denigrating narrative against democracy and popular politicians has been perfected to such a level that anyone defending democracy and politicians is taken for a sold-out. In fact, the country now has a daunting size of cohorts within media, academia, clergy, traders and students who are infatuated with military establishment and so blatantly despise the very idea of popularly elected democratic governments.
In this socio-political backdrop, the whole exercise of general elections and consequent elected governments seem so inoperable when we see that elected national government is more often reduced to the role of a municipal body, without virtually any say in national security policy, international diplomacy, more so in case of neighboring countries such as India and Afghanistan.
In other countries media, academia, students are the indefatigable force guarding the peoples’ right to rule themselves i.e. democracy. But not in Pakistan Incidentally, on the whole, the society has been brainwashed so much against its political leaders that a layman will curse them in most foul words for any and all of his misfortunes without realizing his own limitations and that of the politicians. Lest someone misconstrue, certainly politicians and those at the helm of democratic governments have got their part of responsibility to be accountable for.
But then democracy is not just about installing a popularly elected government at all tiers of governance. Of greater value to peace, prosperity and coexistence are the social elements of democracy such as respect for diversity, dissent, and freedom of expression. All three are the target of those who feel threatened by these democratic values. What else can define decimating the diversity than the way some groups of sectarian clergy and their associates in parliament and media indulge in hate speech against religious minorities? So often this has resulted in mob lynching of the members of these minorities but also of the mainstream Muslims. Young Mashal Khan and former Punjab governor Salman Taseer were killed in most cold blooded manner just because they had more considerate view of diversity and importance of social coexistence.
As if the situation wasn’t already bleak, the state is now politically promoting the likes of Khadim Rizvi, Hafiz Saeed and Ahmad Ludhianvi by ‘mainstreaming’ them. Unfortunately such state of affairs will keep the future of democracy elusive in Pakistan
But conclusively these days are going to be over. Fist test is going to be senate elections where buying and selling process is going on with no hope to have public oriented leadership. Then comes general elections in coming summer of this year where electable would play their role with no hope for the betterment of the people. But one thing coming in our life is immense growth of technology with social media and all kinds of media in front. In spite some elements are also trying to malign this front but nobody now can stop its pressures based on its realities going on around us. This infiltration would bring true leadership and systems for the service of mankind. If anyone would try to stand in between than he or she would be swayed on to his or her death.
So future of Pakistan lies in democracy and that would emerge very soon swaying away all kinds of pitfalls. 2019 or 2020 are going to see this dawn most probably.

Chairman Centre of Advisory Services for Islamic Banking and Finance (CAIF), former Member of IFSB on Islamic Money Market, former Head of FSCD SBP, former Head of Research Arif Habib Investments, former Member of Access to Justice Funds Supreme Court of Pakistan, Member visiting Faculty/ KASBIT/BIZTEK/Sheikh Zayed Institute University of Karachi/PAF KIET/MAJU


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