No major improvement in quality of democracy during 2015: Pildat

Zubair Qureshi

Islamabad—Although democracy in Pakistan showed some signs of improvement in 2015 by holding Local Government elections across provinces, Cantonment Boards and the Islamabad Capital Territory, it is still struggling to survive.
This was revealed in the E-News Bulletin of Pakistan Institute of Legislative Development & Transparency (Pildat) entitled “Assessment of the Quality of Democracy in Pakistan 2015” here on Wednesday.
Even though in 2015 the quality of democracy seems improving, it still has not recovered the shine and the optimism seen in 2013.
According to Pildat’s assessment, the period under consideration (2015) has seen weakening of the writ of the civilian government as its authority was eclipsed by a number of factors including the activism and visibility of the military leadership in formulating policies and decision-making process.
This was especially in relation to the critical domains of our foreign policy and the internal security policy.
This can also be considered fallout of the dharna, which saw humiliation of the elected government at the hands of protestors and the subsequent ascendancy of the military influence. The assessment sees no major improvement in legislatures especially in the Senate. Legislatures during 2015 fared poorly and the year passed without any major legislation, says Pildat E-News.
The elected representatives continue to attach little importance to parliament to be main arena of their duties.
They spend most of their time and energy on attending to personal issues like dealings with local administration, police, employment, postings, and transfers etc. of their constituents rather than in the legislatures on their responsibilities relating to legislation, oversight and representation.
Similarly, parliament too continues to be side-lined by informal and ad-hoc avenues of consultation, such as All Parties Conferences.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and PTI Chief Imran Khan – the third largest parliamentary party in the National Assembly – seldom attend an Assembly Session thus indicating the low priority they assign to parliament. In 2015, the prime minister attended 20pc of the sittings of the National Assembly (17 out of a total of 87 sittings), whereas as Imran Khan attended only two. Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly attended 88pc.

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