The revenge of ‘democracy’!

Published: January 16, 2013
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The writer is an actor, anchor and columnist with 17 years of experience in the media industry

The writer is an actor, anchor and columnist with 17 years of experience in the media industry

Poor democracy! What a joke it has become. Watching the turn of events today, I am stupefied by the response, words and actions of some of our esteemed journalists, analysts and politicians. How long will they keep flogging this dead horse called democracy?

Roti, kapra, makaan’ — Zulfikar Ali Bhutto knew where it hurt the common man and today, his platform is being used to hurt the common man exactly where it hurts. Benazir Bhutto once said that democracy was the best revenge and today, her party’s leadership seems to be on some vindictive spree, manipulating the democratic system for its own nefarious gains. Lawmakers, today, are the ultimate lawbreakers!

The law minister defends a tainted prime minister even in the face of a Supreme Court directive. His party workers resort to rioting, looting and violence, defying the honourable Court’s directive; the interior minister carries on in office with callous disregard for citizens dying every day; the chief minister of Balochistan disrespects the dignity of his own constituency as his daughter’s college admission takes precedence over the deaths of his citizens; Shahnawaz Marri and other members of the Balochistan Assembly feel ‘humiliated’ by the notification of governor’s rule in the province and demand its recall, despite failing miserably to protect the lives of those they represent; and amidst all this, the president keeps smiling, safe and secure behind fortified walls. This is the real face of democracy in Pakistan today, where party jiyalas are inducted into every government department to serve their political masters, not the public. How else could Shahrukh Jatoi, scion of a political dynasty, flee the country despite being the main accused in the Shahzeb Khan murder case? Why did it take the intervention of Nabeel Gabol, a PPP MNA, to register an FIR against the Jatois and the Talpurs? How long will the people of Pakistan live under a reign of terror and exploitation by a few families?

Democracy is not necessarily ‘the government’! This is why an honest bureaucrat gets penalised for reporting malpractices to the election commission, when she was actually doing her job. The people of Pakistan have understood this difference and spoken up against it, but unfortunately, some media anchors and journalists have given more thought to the ‘number’ of people in the Long March, not the ‘voice’ that is resonating throughout the country. Let us recall the number of people who responded to Imran Khan’s call for change. Let us start counting the number of people who staged ‘dharnas’ all over Pakistan to show solidarity with the families of the Quetta victims. Let us start adding up the number of people who came out to demand the arrest of Shahzeb’s murderers. Add them up and that is the majority of the public who want REAL change — not a cosmetic one — where the same feudals and looters of national wealth spend billions to buy back their seats in the assemblies. For that change, let us uphold our Constitution which, by clear definition, makes all these candidates ineligible for election and office.

Let us rekindle that hope for change which compelled men, women and children to leave the comforts of their homes and brace hostile conditions 65 years ago, for a dream called Pakistan — that same hope is visible across the country in long marches, dharnas, protests and even the silence of the vast majority. Whether it is Dr Tahirul Qadri, Imran Khan or a call for justice, the nation is rallying around that cry for change that is democratic in letter and spirit. Dr Qadri’s means of bringing about change may be unusual, his agenda may be unclear but his demands clearly reflect the need of the hour — transparency, accountability, equality and assurance of fair elections — all mandatory for democratic change. The advocates of democracy need to understand that merely holding elections is not the solution. Unless there are reforms to ensure a corruption-free democratic process, democracy in Pakistan will remain an unrealised dream!

Published in The Express Tribune, January 17th, 2013.

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Reader Comments (46)

  • Nadir
    Jan 16, 2013 - 11:29PM

    Naivety par excellence.

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  • Falcon
    Jan 16, 2013 - 11:45PM

    Hina-
    Well said. I have a fear that our wise ones at this time are shooting the messenger rather than trying to understand the message. Democracy is the only way forward but we need to devise ways to accelerate the improvement in governance.

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  • iLiberal
    Jan 16, 2013 - 11:47PM

    Absolutely a brilliant read. Sadly, it will not be enough to open the eyes of the blind followers of democracy. Kudos for brilliant penmanship.

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  • No BS
    Jan 16, 2013 - 11:56PM

    I agree, fundamental reforms needed and people must vote out Zardari / Sharifs and their tax chors

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  • Shahrukh
    Jan 17, 2013 - 12:05AM

    seriously, these actors and singers really need to stick to their day jobs. political analysis and advising on governance matters is clearly not their forte. we all know you mean very well, thank you very much. but please keep your juvenile opinions to yourself, since you clearly have no sense of the political history of Pakistan. wonder where all these patriots go when the military is in power and creating havoc. 4 minutes of my life that I’m never getting back..

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  • Ricky
    Jan 17, 2013 - 12:19AM

    Wolfs are out for their pound of flesh. After smelling blood hounds are out. This is a waste of space in a paper like ET. It is the first time in the history of Pakistan that elections are being held under an honorable neutral judge with the consensus of opposition. Yet some have already rejected the results before time. All the parties who have a chance to win some seats are for the elections except a few rightwing losers who do not see any hope via elections and always use backdoor to power. The elections are not decided by an imported mullah or urban elite but by the rural heartland of Pakistan. Stop the vitriol against honorable CEC and trust his long record. The PCO judges have already hurt democracy more than the generals by aiding and abetting in treason. Those propagating treason and unconstitutional steps must be dealt with according to law if not today someday in future.

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  • dr j tipu
    Jan 17, 2013 - 12:21AM

    brilliant, i agree, the real challenge to democracy is PPP and PMLN

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  • Mirza
    Jan 17, 2013 - 12:26AM

    @Nadir: I agree with you 100%. Gen Mush’s remnants are coming out of nowhere and their target is democracy and future of Pakistan. Sorry but I have to say this is a simple and low IQ Op Ed by ET standards to say the least. Let the nation remember the faces and names of those supporting dictatorship and not a new elected govt under the respected Justice Ibrahim. Too bad all the pigmies are badmouthing the stellar record of the Justice for sake of dictatorship!
    Regards,
    M

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  • neha
    Jan 17, 2013 - 12:31AM

    honestly after reading this i am ashamed that we have a media that lets you be a part of it for seventeen years.

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  • Tahir
    Jan 17, 2013 - 12:35AM

    Very well written…Democracy is just a slogan in Pakistan…Democrats don’t want to perform but want to enjoy perks and privileges…The real issue is why democrats don’t do electoral reforms so that we middle class too can become the leaders…Why? Because they don’t want so…Democracy is being misused and abused…I don’t mean there shall be dictatorship but I do mean that we masses should speak and stand against the evils of these democrats.Recommend

  • MAC
    Jan 17, 2013 - 1:03AM

    Two grains of wheat hidden in two bushels of chaff.

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  • Shahbaz Asif Tahir
    Jan 17, 2013 - 1:23AM

    ZAB or Benazir, were neither role models, had they lived on to rule Pakistan.
    ZAB was the master mind who deceived the army, both in 1965, and then again in
    1971, ultimately leading to the dismemberment of Pakistan. He refused to accept
    the reality of his defeat in the 1970 elections, paving the way for a huge conspiracy
    that has caused such humiliation to us Muslims, from Pakistan.
    His daughter Benazir, was responsible for the murder of her own brother, as accused
    by Fatimah Bhutto, and several corruption scandals, leading to Swiss Banks, Surrey
    Palace, to name a few.
    The present government is the worst ever period of punishment inflicted on Pakistan.
    The less said about them the better. May Allah Subhana help us.

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  • Mirza
    Jan 17, 2013 - 1:31AM

    @Shahrukh:
    You nailed it bro! Everybody is a political analyst now. Thanks and regards,
    M

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  • John the Baptist
    Jan 17, 2013 - 2:23AM

    @MAC:

    Pleaaaaase! Stop the exaggeration.

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  • sabi
    Jan 17, 2013 - 2:27AM

    Author
    About-Turn and say it to those who are pulling legs of democracy to work properly.About-turn!

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  • HRK
    Jan 17, 2013 - 2:51AM

    @Shahrukh and @Mirza: I feel extremely bad for Hina for writing such a sensible article only to end up with comments that reflect the same “jyaala” mentality she has mentioned in the article. If the past 5 years have been reflective of the so called democracy then we’re better off being under the previous dictatorship that at least brought our debts to the lowest point in the history of Pakistan. For the last 5 years PPP has used (rather abused for that matter) the word democracy where underneath this glittery show-off of democracy all we saw was shameless bunch of uneducated, corrupt and non-deserving politicians filling up core posts and destroying departments like PIA, Railways, etc. Don’t you feel ashamed chanting democracy-democracy while we are at the lowest point in our economic history? The whole world is pointing fingers at us and you’re proud of completing 5 years of the so-called democracy where we have resorted to practices worse than anarchy? Merely surviving for 5 years is not a feat — making them worthwhile is.

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  • American
    Jan 17, 2013 - 3:30AM

    Thank You for this piece…. As you’ll see the people who post negative comments (and support PPP/PML) never make any constructive arguments to prove their point. Its a trend on ET, I rarely see anything intelligent on these forums.

    (And my comments almost always get censored, even though I never use foul language, I don’t get why)

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  • AbulKalam Azad
    Jan 17, 2013 - 3:57AM

    To all those supporting Qadri: You idiots have not read the 65 years history of Pakistan and 400 years history of world’s democratic societies. You have no idea what you are talking about. So please shut up.

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  • rosso
    Jan 17, 2013 - 7:07AM

    As if there was not enough drama already.

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  • Wakhzerland
    Jan 17, 2013 - 9:32AM

    Jack of all and master of non.. this lady seriously needs a direction….delving your hand in everything under the sky will leave you with incomplete knowledge and vague ideas..

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  • Ahmad Mirza
    Jan 17, 2013 - 9:41AM

    @AbulKalam Azad:

    And yet you have learned nothing from that history … very bad !

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  • antanu g
    Jan 17, 2013 - 9:48AM

    excellent pieces.. but I doubt most of the intelligentsia in Pakistan would digest it.most of the journalists are earning their bread by penning the evils in Pakistan and a positive change in the status would leave them high and dry.it is therefore in their interest that the status continues.my assessment may sound naive but going by the journalism in Pakistan it can not be ruled out.

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  • muhammad abbas ahmed
    Jan 17, 2013 - 10:16AM

    almost agreeing to what you’re saying…but!
    true democracy is…. when 3 departments work independently, parliament, judiciary, law enforcement agencies

    at current point in time, judiciary is independent (half of the change has happened and we can totally see it)

    but political parties still have influencing authorities to law enforcement agencies!!!

    i think, if u need to stand for something, then the issue is this! “to free the police, rangers, army, other agencies” from political pressures. just imagine for a while if this is done!
    and later when all this is done, SOPs will be created to counter check their work, to make things right.

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  • amoghavarsha.ii
    Jan 17, 2013 - 10:50AM

    @HRK
    do you REALLY think the ruling political parties were free to work in PAKISTAN.
    Then, you are REALLY unfit to have a democratic setup.

    as long as your ARMY is in the shadow, no political party in pakistan can work freely.
    neither in peace times nor in troubled times.

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  • waqar
    Jan 17, 2013 - 11:03AM

    well, nicely written but one correction required, democracy is the most stupid system ever formulated by 0.00001% population of world to control 99.99999%.
    1. Why you need the best man to run a company, why dont you take votes from employes for selection of CEO and yearly bonus. but when it come to motherland we cry for democracy.
    2. why dont you take vote to diagnose the illness of your child rather going to a doctor. but when it come to cure motherland you vote and select the worst of the worst.

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  • nadya
    Jan 17, 2013 - 11:45AM

    hina i second you on the views presented. no doubt democracy is not neccesarliy the government. but i am angry at imran khan for not suppoting this change that Qadri has brought to islamabad in the form of thousands of people, which the PPP ministers make a mockery out of the whole situation

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  • ishrat salim
    Jan 17, 2013 - 12:19PM

    @Ricky:

    Very correct…decided by rural heartland…but are these poor rural population who remain till today subjugated under feudal lords, jagirdars etc; are able to correctly vote ? are they mentally literate enough to understand the value of their vote ? ask these questions first then comment….hence, same faces will turn in in next election….& that is what we do not want because both the main parties & their allies have been exposed in this 5 years of governance.

    Democracy should be the system & it will run only if corrupt rulers are kept at bay through reforms….which the present politicians have no intention to do.This is the reason of disenchantment people have got for ” democracy “….these corrupt rulers & politicians have made us hate the word ” democracy “….

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  • Manoj Joshi, India
    Jan 17, 2013 - 12:52PM

    A unique phenomena with regard to nation building that envisaged and continues to have played a role towards the nation state formation in South Asia that would incorporate The Islamic Republic of Pakistan, Republic of India, The People’s Republic of Bangladesh and Socialist Democratic Republic of Sri Lanka has been the development on the basis of a concept that was adopted and accepted when these nations took birth during 1947, 1971 and 1948 respectively. There is a history which certainly is not very pleasant to discuss with regard to the formations of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh except Sri Lanka. Critics have perceived the growth of religious sub nationalism as a major factor in the formation of these states that was an offshoot born out of nationalism a Western concept. The societies in South Asia have been heterogeneous whether one considers the social, lingual and cultural aspects or economic aspect hence the development of nationhood post independence has been quite different from the West. India and Pakistan both have been as a nation a diverse and heterogeneous state with social, lingual and cultural diversity besides economic disparities. Religion off course has played a very major role towards the formation of The Islamic Republic of Pakistan out of British India. Although not a dead horse as perceived by a certain group of critics, nevertheless democracy is yet to take the deepest root in The Islamic Republic of Pakistan and this cannot be an overnight wonder.The nation has to fight a rather challenging war against religious fundamentalism to make democracy take strong roots in the Islamic Republic and this certainly cannot be an easy going. This does not in any way mean that Pakistan does not have the potential to become a democracy but for the fact that they as a nations shall have to face the strongest challenges and at times their can be certain setbacks too which all have to be taken in the stride. Judicial independence too is equally essential for the smooth running of any democracy and with it judicial accountability too is needed. However, most of the nations in today’s world have a written constitution that is if not rigid semi–rigid hence, on many fronts tussles or frictions between the executive and judiciary or legislature and judiciary do arise. To arrive at any conclusion as to how judiciary need to function in a nation is much dependent on the prevailing social, cultural, economic and political conditions of any country/nation. The coming years especially the next five to ten years are crucial for Pakistan as the success of democracy in that nation shall be decided during the next ten years.

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  • naeem sadiq
    Jan 17, 2013 - 1:40PM

    Very well said. The forces of corruption, status quo and beneficiaries of this lawless democracy have gotten together. They want to keep the label of democracy, but do not wish to change and improve the system. I am for democracy , but not a democracy that has no component of accountability, delivery or justice. What good is a democracy if it can not reform its own glaring faults. Let us demand purging of the black sheep and filters that ensure that the same corrupt families do not continue their loot.
    The ECP is totally inept, incompetent, helpless, compromised, unwilling and incapable organisation. It failed us last time (37 million fake votes) and is well on its way to fail us again. This set up should be disbanded, and a new ECP created that can actually purge the system and conduct fair elections.

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  • Parvez
    Jan 17, 2013 - 3:19PM

    You couldn’t have said it better or clearer.
    Democracy is an evolutonary system. There is no harm in correcting it to make to work so that it delivers for the people and not solely for the ruler.

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  • wardishardi
    Jan 17, 2013 - 4:59PM

    Pathetic apology for the elites.

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  • HRK
    Jan 17, 2013 - 7:28PM

    @amoghavarsha.ii: Yes, they were REALLY free to work. With this gross level of misconduct, I salute the patience of General Kiyani to not interfere in this political setup. A very small example could be the Karachi unrest — the turf war between PPP, MQM and ANP, in which army was never called to de-weaponize the PPP gangs who were armed to the teeth by Zulfiqar Mirza.

    Also, I think you TOTALLY missed the point of this article and my comments like a lot of readers here — it is not to dump democracy, but to criticize this facade that has devastated the country in the name of democracy. It is by no means a platform for you to bash the army, for they do not dictate the socio-economic measures the civilian government has to take to run the country, which it has failed to take.

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  • nm
    Jan 17, 2013 - 7:33PM

    @Author: when the day comes that people of your choice form the government (Imran Khan I assume), how will you like it when PPP or PML-N are sitting in the opposition and they decide to pull the same tactic? Do you think it would be hard for them to gather a crowd and claim they speak for all of the people?

    FYI TUQ does not speak for me and many like me.

    And the analogy with Quetta protestors is false. Those people were not protesting for some dubious political purposes, and changing their demands every few hours, for some puppet-master behind the scenes.

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  • Akhter
    Jan 17, 2013 - 8:08PM

    @Author, Excellent appraisal of the situation we face in Pakistan, and as usual people are jumping on there high horse defending the wonderful democracy that has given us so much over the past 5 years. In fact Democracy is the best for of government however what most of the critics of the author fail to realize is that in its present form it will only lead to
    a strengthening of the corrupt elite. What we need is a shake up of the Election commission and reforms put in place that will ensure Democracy thrives. Do you honestly believe that the current bunch of pseudo politicians will allow these reforms?
    Qadri is a catalyst for change and for this i commend him.

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  • Omer Khan
    Jan 17, 2013 - 8:14PM

    A prettier version of Sheikh-ul-Islam.

    If these agents of ‘REAL’ change have so much support that they claim, why are they so afraid of contesting elections, why do they want a one-tip out cricket sort of a match with tailor-made rules?

    Let’s implement Article 62-63 for everybody across the board. I am not sure about others, but a single Paternity DNA test would certainly take the Tsunami to its logical end.

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  • Ahmad Mirza
    Jan 17, 2013 - 8:39PM

    @Manoj Joshi, India:

    Please use ET as the writing platform and mention this article in your own article if you wish Mr. Manoj; your comments are very hard to read like this. Despite of all differences ET will still give you a space to present your thoughts.

    Thank You

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  • Enlightened
    Jan 17, 2013 - 9:03PM

    I agree with the author regarding her views on democracy in Pakistan. Pakistan is in such a turmoil that any party who comes to power in Islamabad would not be able to govern the country. Even though both major establishments ie civilian and military are responsible for this grave situation but the latter systematically worked to bring the situation to the present state and it can only bring back peace to Pakistan. The country would be un-governable till violence unleashed by both Taliban and sectarian outfits is brought under control. Who else than military which has gone into its shell can bring back peace in the country by taking decisive action against Taliban and others. Though many in Pakistan would not agree with this solution but this has to happen sooner or later. Dr Quadri as per script should become the care-taker PM and the country should be run by military and judiciary combined till situation becomes normal and general elections conducted subsequently.

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  • Ricky
    Jan 17, 2013 - 11:13PM

    Is this acting or intellectual writing?

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  • Faqir Ipi
    Jan 18, 2013 - 12:11AM

    Pashtun are the great sons of Hindukush. The leadership geography and history in Indo-Af-Pak (from Kabul till Dhaka) during past 2000 years, is quite strange and interesting.

    During past 2000 years (even before Islam) whenever genuine Indo-Pak leadership emerged, it was from HinduKush.

    Rest if you cross Indus River (Attock, Khushal Garh, Darra Tang and Darya Khan) from Punjab till Bengal you would not be able to find any leader during past 2000 except one eyed Ranjit Singh.

    In all of recorded history, from Alexander to the present, do you remember any leader from the area after crossing Indus River.

    The region beyond Indus River starting with Punjab till Dhaka had a long tradition in poetry, literature and culture. But it did not have, or did not possess, was that of leadership.

    We do not have anything clean and have only puppets, corrupts, collaborators, sold out who cannot live a day of honorable and honest living. Existing Pakistan leadership (like Nawaz, Kayani and Zardari) and during past 60 years had been the true cast in the image of puppets, corrupts, collaborators, sold out.

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  • Faqir Ipi
    Jan 18, 2013 - 12:12AM

    The Revenge of Democracy

    Pak Accumulated Debt

    During last 50 Years (1947 – 2008) = Rs 5.9 Trillion.
    During last 03 Years (2008 – 2011) = Rs 5.0 Trillion.

    Pak Govt is printing Rs 300 crore/day or Rs 1 trillion /Year.
    100 percent increase in three years.
    Every Pakistani is indebted to Rs 61,000.
    12-13 crore Pakistanis daily earning are less than Rs 200.

    Is Pak Central Bank and Fianance Ministry controlled by Mullahs from Waziristan or working under Taliban, OBL, Al-Qaeda, or Haqqani ?

    Year———-Corruption Per Year
    2008————Rs—390-Billion
    2009————Rs—450-Billion
    2010————Rs—825-Billion
    2011————Rs–1100-Billion
    Total———–Rs–2765-Billion

    Real impact of corruption in the Pak economy is far more than above estimate. Pak does not need even a single penny from the outside world if corrupts are kept under-control.

    Source : Transparency International Pakistan (TIP)

    “No amount of guilt can change the past and no amount of worrying can change the future. Go easy on yourself, for the outcome of all affairs is determined by God’s decree. If something is meant to go elsewhere, it will never come your way, but if it is yours by destiny, from you it cannot flee.” – Umar bin al Khattab R.A.

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  • elementary
    Jan 18, 2013 - 2:08AM

    @Faqir Ipi: Oh no no don’t say that. You will be called anti democratic. Mullahs hide behind their religion ,these crooks hide behind democracy.

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  • Parvez
    Jan 18, 2013 - 1:59PM

    @elementary: Short and to the point…………….well said.Recommend

  • Faqir Ipi
    Jan 18, 2013 - 6:54PM

    Taliban has accepted the responsibility for Corruption of Rs 1,2600 billion reported by TI in different sectors of Pakistan during the last five years.

    Rehman Malik

    US/UK has strongly condemed the incident and ordered more Drones on Wazirs/Mehsud.

    Army has started to soon start new military operation.

    Off course Taliban from Waziristan telephones/cells has been programed for calling only with BBC, CNN, Hamid Mir, Salim Safi & Rahimullah Yousafzai.

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  • Faqir Ipi
    Jan 18, 2013 - 6:58PM

    It’s not just the President. Every political party on the left, right, and centre boasts leaders who belong in retirement homes. Most political parties have ended up as personal fiefdoms of their leaders. Power is family business and remains in the family.

    A staggering 410 million people, far more than the population of the United States, in the country seen as one of the two emerging superpowers live in extreme poverty.

    Last year, the Indians – and the world – were shocked when a UN global poverty index devised by the Oxford University discovered there are more poor people in eight Indian states than in the 26 nations of sub-Saharan Africa put together. India ranked 63rd, just after Togo, and before Haiti.

    Things are more or less same for whole cricket loving South Asia. All-pervasive corruption, extreme economic inequalities, a breakdown of institutions and denial of basics like food, water, healthcare and education etc., have been the bane of the entire region.

    Mr Clean Dr Hindu Singh Vs Mr Ten Per cent Muslim

    Cricket Loving Nuclear Armed Loving Neighbors in South Asia

    India was rocked by the biggest corruption scandals in history in the past few years, under Mr Clean Dr Singh of course, with Mr Ten Per cent over the reins of the Islamic Republic next door, the culture of sleaze has acquired a new meaning and taken to a new level altogether in.

    Like much of the Arab world, criminal mismanagement of resources, red tape and crony capitalism – or socialism in some cases – have ensured that even as we trumpet our fabled economic progress into the 21st century, much of our population survives on less than $2 dollar a day.

    India and Af-Pak are home to a large young population, impatient for change. The young are restless, informed and know their rights. And know how to use the power of new technology and new social tools for triggering change. After Net magic in action in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and elsewhere, it wouldn’t be long before they decide to take charge of their destiny from their incompetent and clueless leaders.

    South Asian with a billion plus people deserves better. This is why, given the bankruptcy of politics in the India, Af-Pak and other nations in the region, don’t be surprised if we see an Arab spring in South Asia soon. Possibilities for a brave new world are endless.

    From India and Pakistan to Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, politics is the same all over the subcontinent. Widespread and institutionalised plundering of state resources by politicians is the order of the day. While the rich get richer and our mediocre politicians turn billionaires in office in no time, for ordinary people it’s a daily grind, a constant battle to survive the crushing poverty. Dynastic politics is another feature that is common between the Arab republics and South Asia.

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  • ishrat salim
    Jan 19, 2013 - 3:57PM

    @HRK:

    I salute you for your comment….the present govt dispensation has dis-illusioned people from the word ” democracy ” then is it the fault of the masses if they curse ” democracy ” because of the mess this so-called democratic forces have created….

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  • HRK
    Jan 20, 2013 - 7:34AM

    @ishrat salim: Thanks a lot…totally agreed with you :)
    @Faqir Ipi: You hit the nail right on the head! Thanks for the stats!

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