International Day of Democracy: ‘Civilian leaders slow to act on devolution’

Published: September 15, 2013
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International Day of Democracy: ‘Civilian leaders slow to act on devolution’. DESIGN: SUNARA NIZAMI

International Day of Democracy: ‘Civilian leaders slow to act on devolution’. DESIGN: SUNARA NIZAMI

ISLAMABAD: 

As Pakistan prepares to join other countries in celebrating the International Day of Democracy today, representatives of civil society groups said it would probably take a while before the democratic setup begins to deliver.

Centre for Civic Education Executive Director Zafarullah Khan says democracy is the conclusion of the greatest human desire – freedom. But the assumption that democracy has been achieved and all is well, leads to the return of dictatorship.

“The theme of democracy to devolve powers to the local levels is still a dream,” he says regarding the issue of local governance, adding that only military rulers successfully acted upon constitutional provisions to devolve powers through local body system to the people.

“Democratic forces are hesitant to do so,” he opines referring to the current pace of controversial legislation in this regard.

The Supreme Court had earlier set September 15 as deadline for establishing local government system.

However, Information Minister Pervaiz Rasheed refused to comment in this regard, but welcomed the day.

“Pakistan has experienced military rule in the past which have also failed to deliver. Therefore the only choice we have right now is to let democracy prevail,” says Usama Zafar who works for Free and Fair Elections Network (FAFEN).

“The only solution to sustainable, political and economic stability lies in the strengthening of our institutions, which is only possible if we let democracy survive without any interference,” he says.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 15th, 2013.

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