Democracy or dictatorship  

Published: April 15, 2019

LAHORE: After having three successive democratic governments, one can question whether democracy is a suitable system for Pakistan or not? At the end of the British colonial rule, we directly adopted their democratic system, with few changes to adapt it to our circumstances. Most politicians were unaware of its practicalities, or simply did not want to endorse them as that would mean a loss of their power. Also, most people were only aware of feudalism or monarchy as a way of governance, so most of them lost many of their rights as the laws were in English. It was much later, that the constitution and subsequent laws were translated into Urdu, for them to be accessible to the masses. The uncompromising feudal elite and the ignorant masses who were struggling to survive post-Partition, contributed to a political landscape that was very different from that of Britain, hence a complete adaptation of their form of governance was not appropriate.

If we examine Pakistan’s history, democracy and dictatorship have prevailed for almost equal amounts of time. However, democracy has failed to meet the expectations of the people, especially in terms of economic growth. Pakistan became notorious for corruption and most leaders face corruption cases. Furthermore, the country’s economy suffered during the rule of civilian governments. Unlike civilian rule, the government under dictatorship achieved many successes as was witnessed during the Ayub era, which was termed the ‘golden era’. The economic growth during Musharraf’s time was better than that seen during the successive regimes. There was a rise in smuggling and restrictions on freedoms during military regimes, but the country has seen more relaxations under civilian rule. Most of our problems can be attributed to corruption and mismanagement by government officials. It is difficult to tell whether our rulers are more corrupt than incompetent. Or is it their lack of interest in providing necessary facilities to the common people?

Amir Bhatti


Published in The Express Tribune, April 15th, 2019.

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