The spirit of democracy

Democracy in Pakistan has yet to take firm roots for many reasons

Letter February 17, 2018

ISLAMABAD: Democracy in Pakistan has yet to take firm roots for many reasons. First, it is disconnected from the people in representing their true voice. So far, people constitute the weakest link in the overall democratic chain. Education is still a luxury for most people and so is the chance of breaking the shackles of poverty across the country.

Second, political parties in general are undemocratic in their character. Except for the Jamaat-e-Islami, there is no other mainstream political party which can pride itself on playing outside the shadow of dynasties. The third debilitating factor is the rise of hooliganism and a culture of vulgarity. Threats and derogatory remarks may earn some short-term political dividend but they have historically kept decent individuals away from active politics for fear of losing hard-earned honour in society.

Even more dangerous to democracy are conscious attempts to tarnish the image of parliament and mock its role in the larger scheme of things. The supremacy of parliament is enshrined in the constitution but the way its members and others treat it is against the ideals they claim to protect.

As we move closer to elections in 2018, democracy will start drifting more and more into trivialities with politicians tossing new and old scandals to the air. The real problems and challenges facing the country will get only a scant mention and attention in the media as sensational stories will occupy the prime time on TV and front pages in the newspapers. Social media, in particular, will mix fact with fiction to construct realities and put forth weird narratives. We, the people, will then judge politicians on what they say more than on what they have done and will actually do.

M Zeb Khan

Published in The Express Tribune, February 17th, 2018.

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