The Democracy Dilemma

Democracy…a simple word best defined by “for the people, by the people”. Since independence the Islamic Republic of Pakistan has sought the true meaning of this word and has made countless efforts to decree itself a democratic state.

Alas all its efforts have eventually come undone. This leads us to the question…isn’t it time that we-the Pakistani nation-opened our eyes to the fact that we just are not cut out for democracy???

It’s a bitter pill to swallow…but the sooner we realize it the quicker we will move on…and perhaps progress from the rut we have been in for the past six decades or so….

Elected civilian (whether the elections are fair is a completely separate issue) makes a couple of bad decisions –> Military personality overthrows with the Coup we have become all too familiar with –> Military leader assassinated/overthrown/disposed/ –> Chaos ensues and we’re back to square one!!!

The democratic seeds we have tried to sow have borne us nothing but trouble. The one free and apparently fair elections we actually experienced in the country resulted in the breaking away of half of the country! This is not to say that there were issues in East Pakistan prior to the elections which were won by the Awami League. Indeed there was reluctance from the very first day in 1947-the Bengalis preferred an Islamic federation of sorts but we would not accept any such proposal-“beat them into submission was the ideology” which dominated our political ranks in the 1960’s.

ZAB’s socialist movement and the mass nationalization of the industrial sector nearly killed the economy. True there was a certain bad luck factor attached as Pakistan had to deal with floods, pest attacks, soaring oil prices, and the loss of jute revenue from Bangladesh during his period in power but there is only so much you can blame on external conditions.

I do not think I have to elaborate on the mess created by the Nawaz Sharif-Benazir Bhutto musical chairs scenario we had to endure during the late eighties and much of the nineties. Throw in Altaf Hussain, corrupt officials, nonchalant police and an apathetic public and you wonder how this country even survived.

Now that we have established that we are not meant to rule or govern ourselves as we are not capable and also not responsible to conduct transparent elections what exact form of leadership are we looking at?

The armed forces have taken it upon themselves time and time again to lead the country towards prosperity, Islamization, and more recently “Enlightened Moderation”. They have assumed the roles of the bastions of knowledge who will rule over the unruly civilians and provide order and stability.

But among their palaces and protocol they forget the Quaid’s advice to the armed forces at a reception hosted at the Governor House on 14th August 1947:

“Never forget that you are servants of the state. You do not make policy. It is we, the people’s representatives, who decide how the country is to be run. Your job is only to obey the decisions of your civilian masters.”

Little did he know that the civilians would be corrupt as are the armed forces. The civil servants have forgotten who the civilian is and who the servant is. From top to bottom, every rung in society is layered with scum. The elite preach the policies which allow them to continue their little kitty-parties and legalize every crime which they commit while the less fortunate are forced to resort to unfair means.

So then WHO? WHO will come to save this nation from the perilous position it is currently in? If military dictators cause ruin and civilians are tainted, then what chance do we have…

Think about it…I look forward to your comments…And I’ll provide my own personal…and rather radical proposition soon…



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