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Thursday, February 15, 2024

Political parties: a necessity for transitional democracy in Pakistan?

The writer discusses the importance of political parties in transitional democracies as the political parties effectively combine and articulate the interest of the people and protect them against exploitation.

In transitional democracies, the underdeveloped political and administrative structures mar the country’s development and prosperity. We shall delve deeper that how this very transitional phase affects the core structure and technical systematic framework of the state.

Most of the transitional democracies in the world today are those nations that were, directly or indirectly, colonies in past. In such regions, the exploitation and the loot were so immense that it drained them to the bones. However, after emancipation, many nations tried to set a democratic political structure in their territories.

Read more: How dysfunctional state structures can fail us in every crisis?

Importance of political parties

Political parties are the fulcrum of state machinery, which guides the nation from oblivion into consciousness. No doubt the role of political parties in transitional democracies is of great importance and without these, democracy could not even survive a day.

Though George Washington, the first US President was also against the political parties due to factionalism, due to their inevitability, the United States now have two of them.

Transitional democracies are an amalgamation of authoritarian and newly nurtured democratic aura. Hence, the political parties in this transitional democratic environment play a herculean role to convert this authoritarian cum democratic regime into a fully operational democracy.

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Furthermore, in transitional democracies, the political parties proved to be a great link between the rulers and the ruled or the governors and the governed. This liaison proved to be an important point, especially where the people are neglected in administrative and political matters.

We can take a certain example like the Indian city of Bengaluru which, only by bridging the gap between the government and the governed, climbed up to the second-best city in the world in 2006.

So by expanding its roots into the local government, the political parties effectively combine and articulate the interest of the people and protect them against the juggernaut of elitism.

In a transitional democracy, political illiteracy abounds. Thus, political parties educate the laymen through protest, campaigns and elections. This in return produces a politically literate class which is essential for establishing democracy.

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Last but not the least, in transitional democracies, without political parties, there can be no peaceful transition of power let alone a successful one. By discussing these points one can easily understand the importance of political parties in transitional democracies and also their effect on the third world and developing countries.

Therefore, it is an established truth and without the political party system in transitional democracies, it can be nothing but a total fiasco.

As a transitional democracy, Pakistan also faces many problems and obstacles in its way towards a completely democratic system. Unfortunately, due to many political and administrative upheavals Pakistan never got a chance to establish its national political hierarchy on the same line as its over-developed military structure.

Political forces in Pakistan’s hybrid democracy

In Pakistan, since 1947 there was a single political party known as the Muslim League. Its hegemony was maintained till the mid-1950s and then various parties popped up.

The most often and common problem of transitional democracies is that they are also authoritarian in nature as discussed above. The critique is despised and sometimes labelled as treason. Moreover, the suppression of political forces, especially those who represent the downtrodden, also cause sectarian and ethnic divide and sometimes conflict.

Read more: Op-ed: Pakistan’s problematic political culture

The problem of identity politics as manifested in the “biradari” system, is of great importance. It not only hinders development but also bars the political consciousness and conscientiousness of the people.

The middle or politically literate class must ensure the nurturing of democratic culture in the country through education and mass media to expunge the menace of the biradari system. The Existing Political parties should play their role by helping civil society organisations (CSOs) to build a responsive and responsible Political system.

The writer is the Political Advisor to Chairman Senate Commerce Committee and FBR Reform committee. He is also the founder of POLITICA-think tank and a student of Masters in Political Science and international affairs at the University of Punjab. He can be reached at tahaejaz588@gmail.com.The views expressed in the article are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.