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Democracy a farce?


Dr. Zeeshan Khan |

Abraham Lincoln defined democracy as ‘government of the people, by the people, for the people’. However, he was candid when he said: ‘Elections belong to the people. It’s their decision. If they decide to turn their back on the fire and burn their behinds, then they will just have to sit on their blisters’. True democracy is a form of government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised directly by them or by their elected representatives.

Electoral democracy empowers voters to take away the powers of elected members if they fall short of popular aspirations or grossly violate the fundamental ideology of democracy. Both PTI government and opposition are behaving immaturely. They proved themselves incompetent. PM Imran Khan’s some aides seem his enemies. Undeniably, Sahiwal Fiasco added fuel to fire. The resignation of IG Punjab must have been demanded by the government.

True democracy is a form of government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised directly by them or by their elected representatives.

CM Punjab Usman Buzdar regretfully has failed to tackle the matter precisely but yet a Gallup survey found that 51 per cent has a favourable opinion Of PM Khan’s overall performance which means that people want to give his government some time to perform in a better way and government must be successful in delivering its promises but for how long the blunders will be sustained?

Recently, the word about ‘Police Reforms’ is again heard. Furthermore, the talk of model police stations was reported but what would be the steps taken to improve the incumbent police? The often rampant uproar in the parliament cost masses approximately 10 crore per session but all in vain due to impatient and childish behaviour of the parliamentarians. The biggest mistake of government and all its ministers is that they have not yet told the actual dilapidated condition of the country to its masses which will cost them very high.

Read more: Democracy in Pakistan: A tale of undemocratic democrats

It often seems that the cry for so-called electoral reforms was not to empower commoners but to make the electoral system more satisfying to oligarchs. Nobody outside the political class or ruling elite had harboured this fancy idea, as it was not meant to promote fair and accountable democracy. In fact, it has nothing to do with the masses. The sudden interest in reforms was palpably motivated solely by the rabid supporters of the oligarchs controlling the nation’s political narrative.

Democracy is a form of government in which the supreme power is vested in the people, and exercised directly by them or by their elected representatives. Unfortunately, Pakistani democracy depicts a different ground reality as voters after having elected their representatives virtually become subjects of a powerful elite who ride a roughshod over them and shatter all of the voter’s hopes by neglecting their problems. Promises made during election campaigns are forgotten and prove dreams selling, while the perks of public offices are fully enjoyed.

Undeniably, Sahiwal Fiasco added fuel to fire. The resignation of IG Punjab must have been demanded by the government.

The irony is that the same elite group gets elected repeatedly and election campaigns are held as rituals because political parties have become dynasties. Top leadership of the parties have assumed unprecedented powers by amending the constitution through the 18th amendment. Politics is the process through which communities and civil societies pursue collective goals and resolve the contradictions, disagreements and socio-political conflicts.

However, civil society means accommodating plurality, establishing egalitarianism, safeguarding human rights and stipulating basic need oriented policies that give priority to development. In a larger sense, civil society is rooted in democracy, constitutionalism and is based on the supremacy of civilian-led institutions anchored on distributive justice. People of Pakistan have used their sovereign rights by electing their own representatives to govern them.

Read more: Political monopolies damaging democracy in Pakistan

It doesn’t take a genius to conclude that elections are the battle in which commoners, who make the backbone of real democracy, only figure as bystanders and not real participants. Indeed, in Pakistan, the commoners cannot even think of getting into the electoral system. Not only because of the prohibitive costs involved, but also because of a surging sea of the citizenry in the country still living in total bondage even in these contemporary times of tremendous human emancipation and liberty. The powerless, voiceless and cattle-like citizenry live as thralls of overbearing pirs, feudal lords, sardars, filthy rich gangster barons and moneyed upstarts.

On paper, this citizenry may be fully empowered and enfranchised but in reality, they are not. They remain at the beck and call of their masters. The stark reality is that the citizenry votes as its masters want it to vote, as its own will counts for nothing. Not everything in the law is perfect. Some things are unresolved and remain to be addressed, such as; is the constitution more sacred or the basic needs of the masses?

Promises made during election campaigns are forgotten and prove dreams selling, while the perks of public offices are fully enjoyed.

Better late than never and better several improvements than none —A healthy democracy must necessarily have electoral participation from all eligible elements of society and greater participation by women in the democratic process is sure to the benefit of a progressive society. With a significant number of minor and major changes to the electoral process envisaged. Thus, free and democratically acceptable elections demand demolition of feudal, caste, and social stratification of society.

Read more: The problem with democracy in Pakistan 

Till such changes take place there is a strong case for reserving seats for peasants and labour in the Senate as they have a better claim to this privilege with ulema and technocrats. In the light of preceding points, steps such as firstly, devising sharply-focused, meticulously-planned and thoroughly-integrated policies, secondly, tapping of indigenous mineral, geographical and human resources to enhance the availability of funds with the government, thirdly, unfaltering, inflexible and incorruptible role of the judiciary can be taken.

Additionally, Strengthening of the local government system, regular conduct of intra-party elections and holding of political activities at educational institutes to promote new leadership plus professionally mature, responsible and objective role of media would be useful. Moreover, initiation of scrupulously-designed poverty alleviation programmes and structural reforms, institutions buildings and use of technology for the eradication of corruption along the introduction of civil service reforms to improve the bureaucratic structure will bring fruit.

Dr. Zeeshan Khan is a writer, educationist, Human Activist, Blogger, certified trainer and Poet. He is a motivational speaker, Cultural-cum-Political Analyst and regular contributor to the Op-Ed pages of different newspapers. He is also Doctor at CMH and Alumnus Of LUMS. Twitter: @DrZeeshanKhanA1. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Global Village Space’s editorial policy.

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