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Failure of Democracy in Pakistan: Causes and Solution

14 December, 2011

By Sajid Mahmood Sajid


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Pakistan came into being before 60 year almost but still endeavoring to develop the institution of politics in its society. The founding father of this country, Mr. Jinnah, achieved this country democratically and constitutionally. Unfortunately destiny did not give enough time to him to draw the socio – economic, religious and political map of newly born state. During early 21 years of its life - 1947 to 1969 - Pakistan was governed by civil – military bureucracy under oligarchic and authoritarian traditions. This was first chapter of dictatorship. Second and third one were during 1979 to 1988 and 1999 to 2007 under military dictators.

First democratic election held in 1970 and a uninanimous constitution was passed by parliament in 1973 in which, democratic parliamentary government system was introduced. So here started first democratic phase (1970 – 1979) under the inspiring leadership of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto. Second and third phases of democracy were between 1988 to 1999 and 2007 to the present date. So democratic era in Pakistan is almost 24 years. During this time, elected leaders proved themselves as a comprehensive failure and they were and they are failed to deliver to the public. Why democratic traditions are not developed in Pakistan up till now? What were and what are the major causes behind failure of democracy here? Now I will explain it.

Causes of failure of democracy in Pakistan lies in our socio - political system. Feudalism, illiterate and apathetic people, self – imposed leaders and inherited politics are a few salient features of this system. It's a feudal state where we are living and most of our political leaders are just feudal lords and they and have assumed and established their identity as political leaders. Feudalism has been leading towards the traditions of inherited politics as well in this country. In this feudal culture, millions of people are landless and illiterate peasants and their social status is not more than a slave. In addition to this, such landless peasants community is living in acute poverty. Auctoritas of this community is not even accordance with the minimum standards of human rights. How can such impoverished, deprived and economically marginalized peasants community can express their will freely in a democratic process? The essence of democracy lies in the general will of the public. So during election, such community is supposed to express the will of the feudal lords. May be due to their lack of knowledge or the fear of the landlord, landless peasants do so. In such circumstances, can we expect from landless rural peasants that they are able to evaluate the credibility of their so – called leaders and the manifesto of political parties before voting? I don't think so they are able to do this. Almost 70% population of Pakistan leading life in such feudal and rural traditions. Consequently, general election becomes a selection of a few based upon the will of a few who are powerful and leading a privileged life. In this way, democracy has been reduced to oligarchy and aristocracy in our country.

In our democratic set up, our elected leaders even visit their constituencies for a for a few times as they have no any concern with the welfare of the deprived communities. As a result, firstly they don't want to know about community problems at grass root level and secondly, they are unable to find out solutions of them.

So far as illiteracy is concerned, it is also a major root cause behind the failure of democracy in Pakistan. Literacy is the very first and the most important pre – requisite for democracy. Accordingly the Census of 1998, literacy rate of Pakistan was 43.92%.and literacy rate among rural community of Pakistan was 33.64% in 1998. But these are official and manipulated statistics which are unable to paint the real picture of our population. Actual literacy rate is even below than these figures particularly in rural areas. So maximum part of our population is still suffering in the vicious cycle of illiteracy and they are unable to contribute anything towards the development of Pakistan. Illiteracy also leads to poverty. An illiterate and economically impoverished community has only concern with bread and butter and they cannot comprehend and follow the true spirit of democracy. As a result, such community gives guns in the hands of monkeys by electing irrelevant persons who are not competent enough to cope with the contemporary national and international challenges. On the other hand, our leaders are always busy in pillaging the national resources and throwing dust into eyes of ignorant and slave people. Another beautiful manifestation of illiteracy is that most of our politicians contest election on the base of fake degrees. In such morally corrupt and illiterate nation, how democracy can flourish and become functional here?

I discussed two major causes of failure of democracy in Pakistan. So far as current democratic government is concerned, it has been failed comprehensively to deliver as well. Democracy is here now but in a failed and a flopped form. It has become just a slogan of exploitation in Pakistan and nothing else. A democratic government is required to do provide justice, social welfare and security to the public. But in the present setup, government has not perceived or made any such integrated package for the nation. On the other hand, corruption and embezzlement are in full swing now. There is no security for the citizens and people are being killed like rats on the name of target killing. Suicide due to poverty and unemployment has become so common now. Now in 2011, in Pakistan, maximum population comprising youth. But there is no jobs and employment for them and they are being underutilized. The sovereignty of our country and land has been simply auctioned to the Uncle Sam and Pakistan has been reduced to a colony of Ammerica. In such a way, all the state departments and institutions have been failed from bottom to top. When Pakistani public is fed up with the governance of corrupt democratic government, then sometimes they propagate that there was enough prosperity during previous military regimes and there is no doubt, military coups of the past were the consequence of failed democratic governments.

But issue is that our democratic rulers are not divine and we as a nation elect them. How we can challenge their aunthticity? Yes we cannot and they are our representatives. When general public will be socially impoverished, deprived and illiterate, it will produce incompetent, opportunist and corrupt leadership. Such leaders just exploit people and they secure their vote bank on the name of democracy. Our leaders assert that they are for the people but actually, they entertain their vested interest only. Provision of social welfare, education and justice is not their priorities. The priorities of our gluttonous leadership are to secure Swiss Bank Accounts, flats in London and Saray Mahal only. Unfortunately such attitude has become modus operandi of our politicians.

At the end, I want to give some recommendations and accoutrements which are inevitable to make democracy a successful saga in Pakistan and to strengthen the fraternity of the nation in general. Sweatshops of feudalism should be closed and traditions of inherited politics must be abolished. Education and social liberty should be given to the all nation in general and to the rural community in particular. There should be social equality, justice and rule of law across the country. Irrespective of their social status and level of wealth, all the citizens should be considered equally accountable of their deeds. Youth must be promoted and young, energetic and educated people should be encouraged in every sphere of life. When our nation will be literate and social freedom will be there, then genuine and competent leadership will emerge from bottom of our society and it will focus on the social welfare and security of general public and sovereignty of our land. A successful execution of all these pragmatic measures may can lead towards a strong democratic Pakistan in true sense and this task is not insurmountable. Otherwise game of Chess between politicians and Military will continue as it was in the past.

Reader Comments:

What has happened to Pakistan

It is really sad to see Pakistan in such state of dillemma. One can not believe that Pakistan is the country from where Legends like Mohd Iqbal and Jennah lived and lead the country. Today's Pakistan was certainly not a dream of those legends. I really fail to understand why in Pakistan(a Muslim country) 70% people are still in poverty. Don't you care about your own people. Muslims like me in India, where we are minorities, sometimes think that Pakistan being a muslim country should be taking better care their fellow muslim brothers. But doesn't seems so.
The landlords/leaders/politicians there doesn't seems to be 'Pak' True Muslims. These chaps are ruining your country and your talents in Rural area. They don't even fear of Allah. It is very much evident.
Wake up Pakistan. As a muslim brother my solidarity is with those 70% people who is REAL PAKISTAN.

We want to see Pakistan of its own REAL 70% People. (And of those who are pious in remaining 30%)

Nayeem, India - 19 December, 2011

Elect honest people. People who do want to live in an atmosphere created by hate.

dv1936, - 21 December, 2011

Solution to the problem I think

I agree with sir Sajid in the statement that illiteracy and feudalism are the main barriers in front of democracy. He also suggested that literacy rate can be improved by taking solid steps in the case..But,on the other hand, How can we expect such sort of reforms from corrupted and money oriented politicians?? They would never pay heed to this important and very first step because they know that public will through them off if educated.In this scenario , our media(if sincere) can play a vital role in process of political socialization. In upcoming elections, it is our moral duty to cast vote by honestly by keeping our emotions in control.

Samar Bhatti, Pakistan - 11 November, 2012

State Religion is the main culprit

All the reasons given in the Article are valid but nut exhaustive. In fact, main reason for failure of Democracy is making a particular faith as State Religion, which brooks no opposition or challenge to its authority. Indirectly, it leads to "Dictatorship", either of a Mullah or Fouzi or a deadly combination of the two. Pakistan did not heed to Mr Jinnah's advice of making Pak a Secular State and thus suffering its consequences. Religion be kept inside the homes for a state to be democratic.

Mahabharat, India - 17 December, 2012

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