Towards a true democracy

Published: May 10, 2013
The writer hosts a show called “Capital Circuit” for News One and tweets

The writer hosts a show called “Capital Circuit” for News One and tweets @FarrukhKPitafi

By the time you wake up to read this paper, please expect everything to have changed. And it is not the change a political party is promising. On the face of it, it is a risky transformation. After witnessing the broad daylight abduction of Ali Haider Gilani and deadly attacks on several other candidates, we do not know how much damage the terrorists can do on this day. On a political level, too, it seems a choice between the inept and the obscurant at best. But don’t let these petty issues crush your spirit. Today’s change has bigger significance than that, for today we prove that we have finally become a true democracy.

It was for this day that we had to endure the unfounded allegations of being apologists of an incompetent if not downright corrupt government. As the first civilian to civilian democratic transition of our history materialises before our eyes, we can tell ourselves that any mistake we make in choosing our representatives today can be corrected by the end of the new term, as long as we firmly uphold the democratic principle. That might not be enough for the impatient among us but to this scribe, it is epoch-making in essence.

From General (retd) Pervez Musharraf’s departure to his return, the tiff between the judiciary and the executive, the antics and semantics of Tahirul Qadri, the never-ending reign of terror, disasters and conspiracies, the new democratic order has proven that it can sustain any shockwave and still prevail. And here we should give full credit to the army and its chief, after the people of Pakistan, of course, to help us maintain the course.

But that doesn’t mean that we have the luxury of making grave mistakes today. As hinted above, it is a sad commentary on the state of politics in this country that we got landed with the worst set of options possible. The two serious alternatives are decidedly soft on matters of national security as crucial as terrorism. Also, the amount of negative political advertising and trash talk we came across during this campaign was enough to leave one disgusted. In an angry nation, more heat doesn’t bode well for national harmony.

And what we had in the last five years was an unmitigated disaster. When incompetence wrapped in hubris is sold to you with a smug smile, the helplessness you feel cannot be described in words. And when remaining in power becomes an end in itself, this is to be expected. But if I were to make a choice between the four major coalition partners, what passes for liberal parties in this country, the Awami National Party (ANP) would have invariably been my only choice. The ANP has not only sacrificed profusely for the values it professes but from a party often accused of being anti-Pakistan, it has transformed its image and become a true voice for a strong federation. But unfortunately, right now, it is not a national player. I can only hope and pray it becomes one soon.

This leaves us with the centre-right parties, namely the PML-N and the PTI. One hopes that once in power, these parties will address this country’s national security concerns. To be honest, I was fairly undecided only until a week ago. But then Imran Khan fell from the lifter and everything changed. For someone who has always admired Imran Khan as a cricketing legend and a great philanthropist, his messianic talks after the sad episode were nothing short of a rude awakening. So, between the devil you know and the devil you don’t, I have decided to go for the former. But that is a personal choice. You have every right to differ with me.

And finally, a couple of predictions about election day. I see a huge turnout despite all odds. But contrary to general expectations, this voter surge will not benefit a single party. When one party mobilises its supporters on election day, others manage to do exactly the same. Secondly, I don’t foresee a hung parliament. With the help of pre-poll alliances, the frontrunner, I believe, will be able to conveniently form the government.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 11th, 2013.

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Reader Comments (5)

  • Mirza
    May 11, 2013 - 12:41AM

    In general I agree with you Op Ed but today I have some reservations. You praise the army most for the democracy “we should give full credit to the army and its chief, after the people of Pakistan, of course, to help us maintain the course” In other words you are syaing that if a bank’s watchman does not raid the cash and does not steal it he should get most credit for bank’s operation?
    I do agree that the two rightwing parties supported and protected by TTP are “soft” on most crucial problem of terrorism. Having killed more than 60 thousand civilians, minorities, beheading soldiers, bombing and maiming yet some still have a soft corner for Taliban. How could the people who have lost their loved ones and Pakistani foot soldiers forgive and forget these terrorists and their supporters?


  • imrans army
    May 11, 2013 - 5:04AM

    by the way time you wake up!!!seeing this tells me all that you just said might not come about to be!


  • Rizwan Nasar
    May 11, 2013 - 4:19PM

    Democracy means equality and freedom for all. We are long ways from that. Transition from one elected government to another is not democracy. True democracy will come to the land of the pure when there is equality for all with a vibrant local government system and check and balance between, the executive, judiciary and legislative branches… And that can only come from education that changes “mindsets”…. This is a first right step. InshAllah!


  • Khurshid Anwer
    May 11, 2013 - 7:44PM

    Democracy means that the people are free to chose their representatives based on their past performance and not because of any other compulsions, can we say that this has happened in Pakistan?


  • Rex Minor
    May 12, 2013 - 3:08AM

    For a democracy to function as a democracy it is necessary that the political leaders in a democracy are credible! The credibility is the major problem in all democracies, the leadership decide differntly to what they committed prior to their election. Pakistan will need go through the teething problems that other democacies have faced, when people caste their votes for the wrong choice not once but more than once..

    Rex Minor


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