Charter of democracy & today’s democracy



Naveed Aman Khan

During their 2018-election campaigns, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari Co-Chairman, Pakistan People’s Party and Mian Shahbaz Sharif, President, Pakistan Muslim League (N) realized the importance and need of Charter of Democracy (CoD) which was comprehensively designed and signed by former Prime Ministers Benazir Bhutto and Mian Mohammad Nawaz Sharif on May 14, 2006 in London. While addressing their political processions in election campaign in different cities Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and Mian Shahbaz Sharif urged the importance of Charter of Democracy. Charter of Democracy was an excellent multidimensional document. It remained effective till the time both PPP and PML-N valued and honoured it. Charter of Democracy was pro-democracy document. Unfortunately after murder of Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto, Pakistan People’s Party and Pakistan Muslim League {N} started ignoring it for their petty egoistic gains. Unwisely on an occasion, PPP leader Asif Ali Zardari said that such documents were not holly papers any longer to obey and honour. Both Asif Ali Zardari and Mian Nawaz Sharif ignored Charter of Democracy throwing it in the dust bin. Resultantly anti-democratic elements which were already waiting for such a situation got strengthened and started overcoming democracy and democratic political parties. Charter of Democracy should not have been benefiting PPP and PML-N only. All the political parties should have been included in the CoD to empower this worthy Charter. Now both PPP and PML-N believe that they were at fault and should once again redraft Charter of Democracy making other political parties part of it.
Rule of law and business of the democratic governments should be honoured by all means in the entire country. Excellent governance and deliverance can only safeguard politicians and political parties. For the sake of refined and bright democracy reviewed and revised Charter of Democracy based on broad spectrum is the need of the time. All the political parties should be honoured and made part of this Charter otherwise minus party leaders formula will march ahead and continue swallowing all the party leaders. Leadership of PML-N, PPP, PTI, JUI-F, ANP, MQM, JI and other parties will have to play their role to redesign Charter of Democracy otherwise all of them will face same fate of Nawaz Sharif one after the other. After redesigning and redrafting Character of Democracy all the political parties will have to focus on corruption-free and rule of law-based excellent governance. Political parties will have to set their matters in order to safeguard democracy and thus Pakistan.
The elected leaders of Pakistan have deliberated on the political crisis in this beloved homeland, the threats to its survival, the erosion of the Federation’s unity, the subordination of all state institutions, the marginalization of civil society, mockery of the Constitution and representative institutions, growing poverty, unemployment and inequality, brutalization of society, breakdown of rule of law and the unprecedented hardships facing our people under dictatorships, have pushed this beloved country to the brink of a total disaster. Noting the most devastating and traumatic experiences that our nation experienced under dictatorships that played havoc with the nation’s destiny and created conditions disallowing the progress of our people and the flowering of democracy. Even after removal from office the people’s mandate and the sovereign will were undermined many a times.
Dictatorships and the nation cannot co-exist. Dictatorship and democracy can’t work all together elsewhere. Dictatorships adversely affect the economy and the democratic institutions as well as the defence capabilities and the integrity of the country so does poorly performing democratic terms. The nation needs a new direction different from a militaristic and regimental approach of the Bonaparte’s regimes.
Taking serious exception to the vilification campaign against the representatives of the people the victimization of political leaders and workers and their media trials in a draconian way in the name of accountability, in order to divide and eliminate the representative political parties, to gerrymander a king’s party and prolong grip ultimately damages democracy. Noting our responsibility to our people to set an alternative direction for the country saving it from its present predicaments on an economically sustainable, socially progressive, politically democratic and pluralist, federally cooperative, ideologically tolerant, internationally respectable and regionally peaceful basis in the larger interest of the people of Pakistan to decide once for all that only the people and no one else has the sovereign right to govern through their elected representatives as conceived by the democrat par excellence, Father of the Nation Quaid-i-Azam Mohammed Ali Jinnah.
Reaffirming our commitment to undiluted democracy and universally recognized fundamental rights, the rights of a vibrant opposition, internal party democracy, ideological and political tolerance, bipartisan working of Parliament through powerful Committee system, a cooperative Federation with no discrimination against federating units, the decentralization and devolution of power, maximum provincial autonomy, empowerment of the people at the grassroots level, emancipation of our people from poverty, ignorance, want and disease, uplift of women and minorities, elimination of gun culture, a free and independent media, an independent judiciary, a neutral civil service, rule of law and merit, the settlement of disputes with the neighbours through peaceful means, honouring international contracts, laws and covenants and sovereign guarantees, so as to achieve a responsible and civilized status in the comity of nations through a foreign policy that suits our national interests.
Calling upon the people of Pakistan to join hands to save our motherland from the clutches of dictatorship and to defend their fundamental, social, political and economic rights for a democratic, federal, modern and progressive Pakistan as dreamt by the Founder of the Nation have adopted the Charter of Democracy. Pakistan, Constitution and Democracy come first.
— The writer is political analyst based in Islamabad.

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