The destination of democracy | By Rana Zahid Iqbal


The destination of democracy

IN a society where the rule of law is absent, the protection of fundamental human rights cannot be ensured and the establishment of democracy is also impossible. Intellectuals and thinkers emphasize that the progress and stability of nations are directly linked to the enforcement of the rule of law. The enforcement of the rule of law is more fundamental than democracy and freedom. It is through the enforcement of the rule of law that peace and security are born and in a state of peace, nations prosper. If rulers, whether democratically elected or not, continuously modify laws according to their whims or ignore certain laws and prevent voices from being heard even within the framework of a law, then a democratic society cannot be established.

Regardless of the society, country or system, once the competent authority responsible for legislation enacts a law, it becomes obligatory for every individual to abide by that law and not violate it, regardless of whether they are affiliated with the ruling party, part of the opposition, an elite member, a bureaucrat or a wealthy person who engages in bribery and breaks the law. Pakistan’s history bears witness to the fact that the state of enforcement of the rule of law has never been satisfactory. In every era, theories and movements related to the enforcement of the rule of law have been weakened, if not completely undermined, and the interpretation of the law has generally been done according to personal interests.

Wherever its own interest clashes, it is diverted there. That is why the destination of true democracy is getting farther away from us. The problems that arise from the violation of the law should only be resolved through the law, there is no other solution to it. Similarly, constitutional issues should be resolved through constitutional means and political issues should be resolved through political means. However, when constitutional issues are given a political colour and the process of making political issues constitutional continues, the results are always negative.

If those who make laws, those who are supposed to enforce them, are themselves involved in law-breaking, if a group or people are allowed to commit violations or if they turn a blind eye to and are not stopped from doing so, it will lead to unrest and obstacles in the path of democracy. In Pakistan, we do a lot of propaganda for democracy, but here democratic values could not rise, and if we want a real democratic system to be established in our beloved homeland, then first and foremost we must firmly adhere to the rule of law. Because without it, neither democracy will nurture nor will the nation and the country prosper from the blessings of freedom.

When influential and powerful people realize that they can escape the law, they become audacious and society, plagued by fear and intimidation, falls victim to their actions. Peace and tranquillity can only be established in a country when the rule of law is upheld.

Establishing assemblies through mere vote counting, without democratic traditions, values, temperament and upbringing, does not mean democracy has been restored. The ruling elite of Pakistan, deprived of democratic upbringing, resort to use power and force to belittle each other in the context of political conflicts and tribal enmities. Politicians seemingly chant slogans of democracy, but internally, they strive to use any means necessary to defeat their political rivals, even if those means are undeniably undemocratic, as long as they retain power.

It is true that democracy is the best system of government among all existing systems, and it has been successfully implemented in many countries around the world. However, the unfortunate reality is that here, we have very few opportunities to witness its true implementation. Whenever we do get a chance, those who come into power have used it solely for their own interests and personal gains.

—The writer is a senior journalist, based in Faisalabad, contributing columns to the national press regularly.