Question-   Challenges for Democracy in Pakistan

Solution-

Q.1.   Why do you think that democracy is not working in Pakistan?

Why do you think that democracy is not working in pakistan?

 

The word democracy originated from a Greek word “demo” meaning people. In this form or style of government, the powers are conferred to the people. In general, it can be practiced by the people in the large societies or it can also be exercised through the elected representative of people. According to President Abraham Lincoln, “Democracy is the government of the people, by the people, and for the people” Democracy is more than just a system it’s a behavior, It relies on some well-understood set of norms, values and practices. All of these, however, can take on different types and interpretations across the world between different traditions and civilizations. The concept of democracy does not rest upon some identical practices but on some essential values. 

As we have to discuss it in the context of Pakistan. So, In Pakistan the form of democracy that we are following is the representative Democracy. In this form, people elect representatives on their behalf to make political decisions, laws and administer programs for the public good. In addition, this form of democracy is successful in west but sadly, in Pakistan it is not, because democracy is not a system or a formula that we can apply anywhere and get the same results. It’s not possible because it’s a behavior it has some conditions and values attached to it. So, there are few reasons due to which democracy is not working successfully in Pakistan as it is in some other countries around the globe.    

Reasons:

  1. Poverty
  2. Education
  3. Corruption
  4. Feudalism
  5. Inherited Politics
  6. Lack of Democratic Norms
  7. Lack of Credibility of Elections
  8. Constant Military Intervention

 

1. Poverty

Pakistan is an underdeveloped and a poor country. The majority of its population lives in completely unfavorable conditions. The poverty level of Pakistan will dramatically rise over to 40 percent by June 2020 and which was 31 percent in June 2018. Number of people living in the poverty will rise to 8.7 Crores from 6.79 Crores[2]. A significant number of population in our country have no proper place to live, these horrible conditions has also given boost to the growing number of beggars and helpless people. An average person's economic condition in Pakistan is extremely pathetic. A large part of the population suffers from starvation and unemployment and in these circumstances where a significant amount of individuals are not sure whether they will have something to eat or not on next day. Then how can they think about who is governing the country or who is taking part in elections. Pakistan is democratic country and democracy is supposed to be a representation for the majority of the society but in our country government are elected with fifty percent turnout. In addition, most of people who vote, values their vote power equal to a box full of biryani. These were the reasons that’s how poverty is affecting democracy in Pakistan.

2. Education

Democracy is not a natural phenomenon it was developed with a number of components. One of the key component is education and solely people who are educated can play an active and positive role in state issues and affairs. In addition, humans have struggled to achieve the ideals of it by educating themselves and their generations. Education is therefore at the core of democracy, and crucial to its existence in modern human society. And when we talk about the education system of Pakistan it is in the severe crisis. Several problems exist because of the failure of our education system, which has threatened not only the democracy but also nation’s stability and future. Current situation is that 40% of our population is illiterate this is a very high number and this is product of few problems which includes gender discrimination, costly quality education, poor funding, and lack of opportunities. There is another very alarming issue, that our country is having three streams of education out of which one is following a complete obsolete curriculum, one is totally out of sync with the modern times and one is having quality education but it is too costly for middle class. The most significant factor behind Pakistan's failure to achieve democracy is illiteracy that leads to almost all the other issues.  Democracy is a form of government in which the public has the actual power (the Power of Voting). How can an illiterate person, completely unaware of this power and ability, choose a right candidate?

All of these issues can be tackled by improving the education system as a whole in order to overcome the threat of social problems and strengthen democracy. With the help of education, the nation will become more conscious and more aware.  When nation becomes more aware it makes democracy stronger and the leaders will be more accountable.

3. Corruption

Corruption is defined as the misuse of the position to private benefits. It weakens trust, destroys democracy, hampers economic growth and aggravate inequality, poverty and the social division. Our society faces a very serious corruption problem, which has undermined the fundamental pillars of society. It is the disease that is destroying all of the socio-economic and political achievements. One of the worst effects of political corruption is that it destroys democracy itself by making the public lose confidence in representatives, leaders and organizations. There is no wonder why so many people were not agitating when General Musharraf ousted Nawaz Sharif's democratically elected government in 1999. It is one of the persistent issues in the world, particularly in 3rd world countries such as Pakistan, where it has been sufficiently routed in national institutions that it cannot be easily removed following the stakes of influential bureaucrats including corrupt and greedy politicians. Corruption has destroyed Pakistan and is contributing in rise of poverty, unemployment and hunger. The top leaders, on the other hand, are involved in this act, and are more concerned with their stakes, without caring about the public. According to the 2018 Corruption Perception Index released by Transparency International, Ranked Pakistan as the 117th least corrupt nation out of 175 countries.

 

4. Feudalism

Feudalism makes matters worse. It has been happening for decades before partitioning and it was transferred to an independent Pakistan after the separation and internally destroyed the democracy. “Feudalism is guided by concepts of individualism, oppression, bondage and slavery.  Whereas democracy is driven by the principles of participation, peace, equality, pluralism and freedoms” [3]. Nearly 70% of the population of Pakistan lives in feudal customs. This is because of the lack of education within the peasants and because of their fear from the apathetic landlords. Vast majority our politicians is of feudal lords. According to statistical data, 80 % of individuals chosen by the people as leaders in Punjab are feudal lords, on-other hand number hits 90% in Sindh. Our Minister of Foreign Affairs Shah Mehmood Qureshi (PTI) and our Chief Minister Sindh Murad Ali Shah (PPP) are few to name. Feudal lords treat masses as if they are their slaves. These masses cannot vote to anybody other than their lords, which directly leads towards aristocracy and oligarchy and kills democracy in the process. Feudalism has been leading our country towards another big issue of inherited politics.

5. Inherited Politics

Almost every politician, with perhaps the exception of Quaid-e - Azam and Liaquat Ali Khan, has their children inducted into politics. Almost all of the prominent political parties of Pakistan are somewhat practicing Inherited politics. In every Election, a number of politicians or ambitious young politicians compete for the House of Power. The principal objective of all is to gain State control and strengthen family interests. Inherited politics is as if one leader is Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, then next will be Benazir Bhutto and then, obviously, Bilawal Bhutto, even though he is right or not the right candidate for the position. Feudal system and the inherited politics go hand in hand since ages. Many of the feudal lords have entered in Pakistani politics and after making successful careers, now they are making headway for their upcoming generations. Among the most popular are the Bhutto family, Makhdoom family, the Mengals family, The Sharif family and Chaudhary family. All the political parties, with few exceptions, are actually extensions of powerful families with inherited leadership. Their politics primarily revolve around managing and strengthening family interests. Pakistan has more than 400 families, which have been dominating Pakistani politics for decades. So, each time general elections take place, each party promises to give young and promising candidates chance based on merit but it never happens until now.

6. Lack of Democratic Norms

The quintessence of democracy is right of dissent, acceptance, tolerance and strict accountability. While elected leaders enjoy constitutional powers, they must stay attach to a strict code of ethics that come with it. They must refrain from the abusing power, because the decisions and the policies they make effects millions. The real problem, in Pakistan, is not the democratic form of government, but the autocratic behavior of the politicians and officials. As politicians usually do not care about their commitments when they come to power. For Example, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif also said that his primary purpose is to restore democracy, but his government was unable to resolve common citizens' issues such as poverty, unemployment, energy crisis, etc.

7. Lack of Credibility of Elections

Fair and frequent elections are the core essence of true democracy. However, Pakistan's record of Elections is little poor. After every elections, all losing parties criticize the winning party for allegedly rigging and Also title the whole process as unfair elections. In addition, the parties also modify the election results when they came into the government. Because of the multiparty system in the country, it's extremely difficult for a party to have a clear majority. Consequently, Most of time a coalition government has to be formed and many parties remain in government despite having fewer election seats. For example, in 2013 elections Pakistan Muslim League (N) received majority of votes and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) suddenly appeared as the country's second biggest party. PTI chairperson Imran Khan criticized the 2013 elections for being rigged[4] ; thus raising critical questions about transparency in this important political activity.

8. Constant Military Intervention

Although Pakistan was established as a democracy after independence from British rule, the military has been one of the most powerful institutions in the country. Since 1951 there have been several successful military attempts of removing legitimately elected civilian governments from the power on the grounds of self-assessed corruption and mismanagement. Our nation has experienced some decades under military dictatorship (1958 to 1971, 1977 to 1988 and from 1999 to 2008)[5]. Which made it extremely difficult for the democracy to set its roots. Military law functions better in life or death scenarios than democracy. As, military man cannot afford voting when enemy is attacking. Similarly, democracy works efficiently in peace, because a civil society is more fairer when it is governed by the citizens it elects. It can be seen in all around the globe that countries which are much more stable and the people are also more free are ruled by the democratic government with a subordinate army and not by the Dictatorial military governments which suppress their people to the government's will.

 

 

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