Naveed Aman Khan
QUAID-i-Azam (RA) was strongly in favour of democracy. About future political system of Pakistan he had throughout been saying that our country will have a democratic system in which masses would be free to elect their leaders. Since independence the country has been struggling for a democracy in its real spirit. Now masses are aware of the tactics used by dictators and they prefer those who, in their minds, are the real savoir of democracy in Pakistan. There is still huge space of improvement for far off areas of Pakistan where the literacy rate is low so they can be manipulated into thinking about anti-democratic agendas. Partial accountability is worsening the situation. Should it be one sided? Shouldn’t it be impartial? To me biased justice is no justice. Revenge should be avoided to avoid massive disorder and displeasure. Rule of law across the country is the only solution of the problems of Pakistan.
Electoral Reforms Bill was passed by the National Assembly which should be the leading hope for continued democracy as it strengthens and increases the role of Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) by providing autonomous and legal right pre and post elections. This act has been functional since 2017 and it was a hope for the fair elections in Pakistan in 2018. The foul and rigged elections always cause the fall of democracy and history has proved it. It was big hope that Election Commission would monitor every electoral activity during elections with greater strength and impartiality but unfortunately it couldn’t. There has never been enough settling time for democracy post martial laws. Now again government is struggling to complete its tenure. With non democratic attitude can we think of safe future of democracy in Pakistan? No serious threats to democracy are still there. Civil-Military conflicts have always been heading towards military intervention. If now we suffer yet another martial law it would be because of more than good relationship between civilian government and military. The political system in Pakistan has been unstable since the staging of sit-in of Imran Khan and Tahir-ul-Qadri in front of Parliament during last PML-N government. It looks it’ll continue to be the case in the future too. Constitutional crisis in Pakistan has been a reason for riots, chaos, coups and protests. Unfortunately, Pakistan still has non functional constitutional system. Although there have been some corrigenda in the Constitution of 1973 that reflects the immediate response of the judicial system towards the changing needs in law. Masses now don’t trust the judicial system and there are cases of disobedience of court orders recently. Supreme Court needs promising measures to ensure the robust and unbiased justice served to every citizen of Pakistan. Functional judicial system points toward the thriving democracy while a failed justice system leads to the end of it and Pakistan is on the thriving road if looked justly.
Immature leaders always fail to take mature political decisions and thus can’t guarantee fair play before, during and after the electoral procedures. Irresponsible conducts of the authorities have always been threat to democracy. Somehow after ousting the political stalwarts from political arena new ones are experienced but Democracy and development of Pakistan remained a dream. Since the start, civil-military relations have been main hurdle in the development and revival of democracy in Pakistan. In my thesis only government is not civil, Opposition is also civil. So when we say civil-military relationship it should mean relationship of Military with Government and Opposition at the same time because both Government and Opposition represent the nation. Unanimously, Constitution is supreme and all the institutions and departments work within their prescribed constitutional domain without exception. There are still chances of decades long coups in near future if the Military, elected Government and Opposition do not cooperate in a mature, responsible and decent way. Lack of democratic sense always fills with a greater influence of military involvement in the matters of government and leads to permanent control of a publicly elected government.
Pakistani media, scholars, intellectuals and teachers have great responsibility to enhance civic and democratic sense in the society. Through media and academic system sense of democracy must be developed in order to attain culture of democracy in Pakistan. Masses need to understand the importance of democracy and its advantages. Media should focus more and more on the development of minds by educating people and then letting them choose the right direction. This way, there’ll be no political tension as the masses learn to elect those who are beneficial to both the country and the nation. The standard of politics of Pakistan is not of that level what it had been because of the continual involvement of remains of the non political elements. The behaviour of the politicians and other stakeholders is worsening gradually. Political decision making among the top Pakistani politicians is shallow, short-sighted and biased. Non-democratic elements always take advantage of such situation and lead to the demise of already struggling democracy.
There is a dire need of right and visionary decisions from the Government and the Opposition equally. Political instability rises because of wrong and egoistic decisions of Government Opposition and Institutions. Pakistan has dark history in this regard. It is a well-known fact that when the government loses control, the anti democratic elements start to gain too much influence which eventually leads to the immaculate transition of democracy as it happened in Imran Khan and Tahir ul Qadri sit in of 2014. Unfortunately, hopes for the real democracy in Pakistan are not very high ahead. Its still long way to choose what masses stand for and what they need from a leader. Pakistan still is striving and struggling for stable democracy. Future of democracy in Pakistan is very marginal as long as ever uncertain civil-military relations are concerned. To me for the stable future of the country balance civilian opposition and military relationship is as important as that of civilian government and Military relationship. All the institutions of the country are bound to serve the nation under the umbrella of the Constitution of Pakistan without exception.
—The writer is book ambassador, columnist, political analyst and author of several books, temporarily based in United Kingdom.