Society Magazine

Age of Authoritarian Democracy

Posted on the 03 February 2013 by Azharnadeem

democracyRule of the people means that the people of Pakistan have the right to rule their own country. According to the democratic idea, the people think for themselves and select officials to carry out their wishes. An election is a public affair. The people, exercising the right to select their officials and to decide upon the policies to be pursued, proceed to their several polling places on Election Day and register their will. The main process of democracy today revolves round a superficial election event: the system of selecting candidates for the top jobs in the country by allowing the electorate to stamp on ballot papers every five years. We can vote to choose our leaders.

Pakistan is a representative democracy, where people select their representatives once in five years to make laws and policies on their behalf. This is what a democracy is all about in Pakistan. In fact, western democracy is a tool of evil. Again it is a tool in the box used to keep us believing that we are free people. A true democracy is slightly different. In a democracy, the will of the people serves as the basis for collective decisions. The great fundamental issue now before our people can be stated briefly. It is: Are the Pakistani people fit to govern themselves, to rule themselves, to control themselves? My contention against prevailing democracy is this: is it the best mode of governing a country for every country of the world? It seems to work great for the west and developed countries but does it necessarily work for developing countries like Pakistan?

Does our democracy give access to fair play and justice? Well, perhaps: if you are rich, have all the necessary connections. The legal system in our so-called democracy is rotten to the core and a farce as far as the majority of the electorate is concerned. This democracy therefore is not working except for those who are even more evil than any tyrant the world ever had. Like all other institutions, the judiciary is there to protect the ruling elite and propagate and promote the “system”. Limiting the participation of the people merely to voting once in five years has significantly reduced the responsiveness of the representatives to the people. Further, representatives often make policies that are not aligned with the wishes of the people. We cannot reasonably ask for a change in administration; if, however, the voters feel that the people, as a whole, have no influence in shaping the policies of the Government.

Many people, it seems, vote out of a sense of moral obligation. Slogans of rule of law by PPP, as democracy, are to distract the people and to offer a wrong image of democracy, when the most important elements of democracy are hidden from the eyes. While people believe that the democratic process is limited to the act of giving a signed blank cheque to representatives to make decisions on their behalf, the chances of real change, any change, are minimal. The system is now used to obtain power, wealth and influence by a few who have also been using it to stay in power and preserve their advantages and hold onto the wealth and resources of the nation they claim to serve.

Lower voter turnout rate is another worry for democracy. In Pakistan voting is not compulsory –large numbers of voters choose not to exercise their right to vote. It’s not the people’s fault that they don’t vote; they don’t because they don’t have a choice and because they don’t have a choice they shouldn’t be pushed into voting. They think politicians are all alike, at least in their actions. Due to lack of confidence amongst majority of eligible voters about politicians, it can not be taken as a representative democracy. For instance in 2008 elections PPP got only 13% votes out of total eligible voters but formed the government. Such democracy is nothing more than mob rule, where 13 percent of the people may take away the rights of the other eighty seven percent.

The problem is that people are so sick of the political corruption rampant and dynastic politics in Pakistan today that they’re turning the blame on elected representatives and the very institution of democracy. Political parties in Pakistan are not democratic. They are family legacies with the children inheriting the popular position of their fathers based on the ownership of land and status in the society. They keep an eye on the U.S response while playing havoc with their own people. Clearly, they regard themselves as accountable, not to the Pakistanis but to U.S.

Democracy (true democracy) can solve many of our chronic problems. Democracy need not be feared if the people are properly educated and if civic institutions and virtues are strongly embedded in the society. More social policies mean more democracy, openness and collectivism in everyday life. The current system has created a gradually worsening social structure void of any principles or morals and following a religion of greed, opportunism, and basic instinct culture. Democracy we try to practice is beyond our comprehension! Let’s not try to implement western designed systems that are detrimental to our cultures, values and respect. Who could have thought that our nation would one day go to such an extend of a divided people killing and turn against one another, brother against brother and children against parents, the government against its people and people against their leaders.

My opinion is that let us redesign our own democracy; a democracy that incorporates our values, beliefs and traditions. I believe entirely in the united, peaceful and economically vibrant nation of Pakistan, but we have to have a rethink of the constitution changing the face of our constitution which currently mimics the western styles of democracy. Democracy through party politics is very vulnerable to these western backed governments that can finance and ‘make sure’ their preferred government or leader gets into power in Pakistan. Social democracy is not a luxury but an absolute, essential necessity for forming welfare state. If democracy is really what everyone wants then they should realize that they need to have the appropriate systems in place for democracy to work. Otherwise, I don’t see anything changing in the way this country is running.


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