Why is Pakistan lagging behind? -OpEd – Eurasia Review
Francis Fukuyama described democracy in his book “The End of History and the Last Man”. He concluded: “The end point of mankind’s ideological evolution and the universalization of Western liberal democracy is the final form of human government.
Democracy is not just a word, and not something that comes by chance from legislation or elections etc. Democracy is a process that can only work if it is rooted in the culture and routine of the people. It can only flourish when it evolves through reform, education and civic responsibility, which also requires popular consensus, decentralization and the separation of powers. But the most important part of a democratic system is a structural change of society from a feudal and tribal configuration to an urbanized working class society.
The (almost) eight billion people in the world live under a wide variety of political systems. According to the Democracy Index prepared by an organization called the Economic Intelligence Unit, based on sixty indicators in five different categories: 1. Electoral process and pluralism; 2. Operation of government; 3. Political participation; 4. Political culture; 5. Civil Liberties.
In 2020, of the 167 countries in the survey, 23 countries were classified as “complete democracies”, 52 as “imperfect democracies”, 35 as “hybrid regimes” and 57 as “authoritarian regimes”.
Full democracies are nations where:
Civil liberties and fundamental political freedoms are respected
There are valid systems of government checks and balances
There are limited problems in the democratic functioning
The media are diverse and independent
Only 6.4% of the population lives under the full democratic system which includes Western Europe, East Asia and Oceania: New Zealand, Taiwan, Australia, South Korea, Japan, Costa Rica, Uruguay, Norway, Finland, Sweden and Iceland.
Imperfect democracies are nations where:
Elections are fair and free
Fundamental freedoms are respected but may have problems
There are problems in the functioning of governance
39.3% of the population lives in this category which includes
Eastern Europe, Moldova, Montenegro and North Macedonia, Israel, Spain and Cyprus are considered imperfect democracies
Hybrid regimes are nations where:
Election Fraud or Irregularities Occur Regularly
Pressure is exerted on the political opposition
Corruption is widespread and the rule of law tends to be weak
The media are pressured and harassed
There are problems in the functioning of governance
17.2% of the population lives in this category which includes
Turkey, Georgia, Armenia, Pakistan, Ukraine, Morocco and Tunisia fall under the hybrid regime classification.
Authoritarian regimes are nations where:
Political pluralism is non-existent or limited
The population is ruled by absolute monarchies or dictatorships
Infringements and abuses of civil liberties are commonplace
Elections are neither fair nor free (if held)
The media is state-owned or directly or indirectly controlled by the ruling regime
The judiciary is not independent
Government critics are censored
37.1% of the population lives in this category which includes
Sudan, Egypt, Libya, Algeria, Russia, Afghanistan, Myanmar, North Korea, Democratic Republic of Congo and Syria, China, Venezuela, Nicaragua and Cuba are the authoritarian regimes
True democracy means a system in which wealth and opportunities are distributed; which ensures the well-being of the “people”, where the fundamental rights of peace, health and education would be equal for all; where the rule of law would apply equally to everyone – intergroup, intersociety and international, so that humanity could be at peace. Also, dissent is an extremely important part of true democracy. It is a crucial means of maintaining balance within society. Without dissent, progress is difficult and it is difficult for people to judge what is happening in their nation and with the government they have elected. A number of factors, including family values instilled at home, upbringing, beliefs, and social environment, are relevant to a healthy and vibrant democracy.
Fault lines in democracy. Moises Naim is a Venezuelan journalist. Naim has a very interesting analysis of various so-called democratic countries that are gradually turning into autocracies because of democratically elected populist leaders who consider themselves above the law.
The reason (1) is populism which more often than not creates erroneous notions in the mind of a ruler who becomes self-righteous, selfish and dismissive of the law and the constitution. These leaders reject collective wisdom, despise political opponents and present themselves as indispensable.
Reason (2) ignores parliamentary values and ignores traditional parliamentary ethics is a populist leader’s reliance on outright lies. This includes giving people false hopes and making promises to achieve unattainable goals. This confuses the general public who are unable to tell the difference between the truth and a lie. This is how democracy begins to sleepwalk into autocracy, especially when a leader’s populism turns into a cult. The leader then begins to think that he may be the only politician on the national political landscape who can solve all the problems without creating a national consensus.
Reason (3), They spread lies which become articles of faith among their followers. They sell themselves as noble and pure champions of the people, fighting against a corrupt and greedy elite
Reason (4), the blatant lies, fake news and poisonous propaganda on social media have further aggravated the situation. As a result, democracy is unfortunately losing the fight.
Pakistani approach to democracy. Pakistan is now 75 years old but it falls into the category of hybrid democracies. its democracy is nascent because half the time authoritarian regimes have ruled the country, therefore democratic government has yet to fully break through what is called “strategic democracy”, which means that our elections are generally viewed with suspicion by the losing side. and it will certainly take time, with the strengthening of parties, institutions and organisations, to develop the practical aspects of democracy and the general democratic mindset.
The destiny and future of Pakistan rests on democracy and for that we need tolerance, harmony, inclusiveness and pluralism. But there are obstacles to democracy in Pakistan. A misplaced focus on faith has fostered extremism and hindered openness and tolerance. Feudal rule inhibited education, gender equality, openness to modern ideas, and a competitive political process. And the pre-eminence of the military has led to the dominance of security over development from the start and challenged civilian supremacy. It is hardly an environment conducive to the life of democracy.
The lack of education and knowledge prevents a large part of the population from meaningfully engaging in democratic culture. In Pakistan, feudalism supported by state-sponsored religious institutions created self-perpetuating disparities in society by resisting modern education, women’s rights and socio-economic emancipation. All this is hardly conducive to a democratic environment in the country; therefore, Pakistan is ruled by a hybrid democracy. Genuine democracy is a prerequisite for political stability, economic prosperity, integrity and security of a country.
Federal form of government, empowerment of the Senate, parliamentary democracy based on proportional representation, inclusiveness, egalitarianism, active participation, citizen-centered policies, freedom of speech, free, fair and frequent elections in place of majority democracy, is a prerequisite for the federation of Pakistan, therefore, Pakistan needs to improve its democratic credentials by introducing constitutional reforms along the above lines to attain the status of a full democracy.
Sher Khan Bazai, former Education Secretary, Balochistan Pakistan. The author can be reached at[email protected]