Fixing democracy

It is imperative that the political parties sit together, deliberate on these issues and try to find solutions.

Farrukh Khan Pitafi July 17, 2012

Pakistani political drama is nothing short of a dark comedy. On one side is a government that makes decisions only to test waters, annoy its opponents and withdraw them to enhance its victimhood credentials at the slightest signs of opposition. Then, there is an opposition that will do anything to avoid being called a friendly opposition. And then there is Imran Khan’s party, which never tires of name-calling. Consider Imran Khan himself, who calls the newly-elected prime minister, ‘Raja Rental’. The rank and file of a party may do as it pleases but imagine a party leader and prime ministerial candidate using that kind of language.

Cynics then say that the parliamentary opposition is the opposition in exile. The opposition in residence is the country’s judiciary, media and at times even the deep state. Finally, there are religious political parties known only to worsen a national crisis. And with all these ingredients, the end result is pretty nasty. It gives us a country whose ruling elite can do nothing right.

Now that the elections or a total collapse of the system appear just round the corner, is it advisable to make amends and change things in a manner that ensures that democracy or whatever passes for it does something to deliver, too?

Can we begin with the political parties? The first thing the political parties can do is give up pretence and acknowledge the fact that they have done no homework on anything. If the parties start working on their policy options now, by the next elections they might be able to give us something useful. Then there is the matter of a shadow government. Unfortunately, it is a golden tradition about which no political party seems serious for obvious political reasons. If that cannot be done, at least the three major groups can help the country by forming research institutes within. A properly staffed research institute will not only give a coherent policy direction to each party but also ensure that it does not complicate the future cabinet formation process for them.

The best option will be to start working on a few important policy matters, namely, the economy, the fight against terrorism, foreign policy, education and health. If these parties work out elaborate plans on these important areas they will be better prepared to rule the country after elections. However, if they continue to drag their feet as they have always done, they will achieve nothing substantial and will end up making bigger fools of themselves than the current lot.

Finally, now that we have an independent and credible chief election commissioner, it is time to improve upon whatever we have recently been given in the name of electoral code of conduct. There are some very serious campaign finance questions that need to be answered and the new code does not even come close to answering them. It is imperative that the political parties sit together, deliberate on these issues and try to find solutions.

These are a few important things that have to be done in order to change the way the country is run. If this cannot be done, there is no sense in pretending that the country is a democracy because in such abysmal absence of preparedness, countries are usually run on autopilot, which means the country’s bureaucracy, judiciary and the deep state will continue to steer it towards bigger disasters than we are currently facing.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 18th, 2012.


ishrat salim | 10 years ago | Reply First.... 1) the same present bunch are going to be elected in next term, that wuf=d be most unfortunate but true as we do not hv strong opposition nor sincere leaders.... 2)let us not use the term " democracy " in our country bcz : - we hv a dynastic political parties, even 18th amendement has given right to the party leader to remove any of their members at any stage for any reason - so, is this democracy ? - no education, hence people are not aware of their rights,priveleges, political, social & legal equalities - majority of our people in rural areas are subject to enslavment & wud vote as per the wishes of their tribal leaders, Sardars & feudal lords ( & unfortunately, most of them are in politics ) - Religious political parties exploits religion to counter democratic system, bcz majority of these people come from poor background, hence no education to differentiate between right & wrong So, let us sit together & bring in a new system as per our ground realities instead of copying Western democratic system...let us give it a new name & STOP pretending as democracy lovers....we need good, sincere, honest & patriotic leaders....& system shall work. - read survey by PEW published on 19/7/2012 on the state of " democracy in Pakistan "....
Ashfaq | 10 years ago | Reply

It is the personal vendetta that is being translated into institutional conflict. All sides need to sit back and think with a cool head what is in the best interest of the country. Neither the theories of democratic transition nor of its consolidation will be able to answer the institutional warfare of Pakistan. Politics and more so the democracy is a system of give and take. The judicial branch has to restrain itself from undue interference in the functioning of the executive or legislative branches. Absolutely no public statements from any of the members of the judicial branch and no suo moto of every nonsense. The apex court needs to understand that it is not a sub-division/tehsil/county level trial court but the court of last resort.

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