People shouldn’t be afraid of their government. Governments should be afraid of their people. A quote which is widely used globally but possibly the most relevant in the state of Pakistan today. Politicians who are elected to serve their constituents, forget those exact people who bring them into power. Instead, billions are looted, extravagant shopping sprees are sought and everything is done, yes everything, but for their own vested interests, and not for anyone else. This may well be a controversial and hard hitting statement, but our nation is democratic in name only.
Let us use a universal term to define what democracy really is. The world renowned Oxford Dictionary recognises a democracy as a ‘a form of government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised directly by them or by their elected agents under a free electoral system.
The Democracy Index has identified 3 different types of democracy, which include full democracy, flawed democracy; this is where the system is partially democratic and partially dictatorial, and the last is hybrid regimes; this is where elections are dictated. It is unfortunate that the country of Pakistan, which was built upon the principles of Mohammad Ali Jinnah, has fallen to such low levels that it’s democratic structure is now classified as a ‘hybrid regime’. It is made to look like a democracy, it certainly sounds like one, the agenda of democracy is down our throats, but it is anything but that.
Compare the vision of the father of this nation all those years ago with what we are witnessing today and it would make the strongest of hearts melt. Quaid once quoted that, Democracy is in the blood of Muslims, who look upon complete equality of manhood [mankind]…[and] believe in fraternity, equality and liberty. Our founding father went further and remarked, “Pakistan is made for the betterment of the people living in it. People will themselves select their
Leader and it’s the responsibility of the Leader to fulfill the needs of the people and work day and
night for this Motherland.”- Put all our political, religious, social attachments to one side and look at the reality. Have we as a nation fulfilled the dreams and hard work of Quaid-e-Azam?
As the political tensions boiled over in Thailand recently, one analyst observed that, “we’re in serious danger of becoming a democracy in name only” as the “power has become so concentrated in the top echelons of society that the remaining millions are left wondering how it went so wrong, and quickly”. Those so called champions of democracy no longer need to listen to anyone else. It is not a new argument, but it is hard to argue that The poor, who are suffering from an all-out depression, are never heard from. In terms of their clout, they might as well not exist.
Many have argued and will continue to that until Pakistan elects a charismatic, influential and trustworthy leader nothing will change. You hear it time and time again, so and so is corrupt and that is why we are in this plight. However, look more closely to the surface and the problem of consecutive failed leaders is just the tip of the iceberg. It is the system which is the problem and not the leader. Do not get me wrong, the leaders Pakistan has elected in the past or those who have usurped power have hardly set the world alight. Nonetheless, it is the system itself which has given such individuals, the opportunity to be seated on such prestigious thrones.
The structure currently in place heavily safeguards the rights and interests of the rich aristocrats and continually marginalizes against the poor. It has always protected the 5 to 10% elite in society and sheltered their vested interests at the expense of the rest of the population. The laws made are always passed to favour the rich and their political and social aspirations whilst the poor’s interests, needs and demands are scarcely highlighted, fought for or even openly discussed on various platforms. A clear example of this can be seen as recently as the 2014 Budget carpeted out in Parliament for the populace of Pakistan. It is all a fantasized drama, and the promises made by politicians in today’s day and age, are nothing more than token gestures which are clearly hollow and never followed through.
The irony is that money is there. Anyone who tells you that Pakistan cannot be a prosperous nation is a clear liar. The billions of reserves (all eaten up), the hundreds of billions in Swiss banks, the natural resources and the jazbah of the awam puts to bed the idea that Pakistan is a country which was/is poor and always will be at the behest of handouts. The money which is available is never utilized for the correct projects. Why does Lahore need a Bullet Train. Likewise why does Rawalpindi need a Metro Bus. These after all are luxuries. You may think, hang on, it is public transport. In turn I agree. However when in excess of 40% are living under the poverty line, gas and electricity is hardly available, security is a mass concern and inflation as well as expense is at an all time high, are buses and trains really the solution?
How can people live in a country and expect it to succeed and flourish when corruption when basic necessities are viewed upon as luxuries. In three simple words, corruption, corruption and more corruption. The exact people that make the laws and those who are tasked in implementing these legislation are themselves the most corrupt. Corruption therefore breeds further corruption and it then trickles down to the common man whereby it is viewable in sports, business, religion, trading, industry and so forth. Further still wages do not reflect the inflation in the country. Everything has increased in price whether it is food, gas, petrol, electricity, land yet the wages have not increased in time. A measly 12,000 rupees per month was the promise from the government to the average person per month. Forget about prospering as a nation currently, people are unable to keep their head afloat at this bleak time.
This therefore goes to show that the election of a leader or political party cannot bring about the change that is craved. A lot more is required than just one leader being changed. With the current system in place, even 10 elections will not bring about the required level of transformation which can take Pakistan out of the abyss it is currently engulfed in. It is the system which needs reform and not who is sitting pretty as the Prime Minister or President in the coming years. And until the nation realizes this and stands up for what is their democratic right nothing will change. We live in a state where equality, freedom of speech and peaceful co-existence is still a dream despite this all being promised to us upon independence.
Until we do not stabilize our country and have stringent accountability in all forms there is no point holding any further elections as nothing will be amended. It is evident that the farcical election of 2013 was carried out under false pretenses. Rigging was rife, threats were apparent and corruption was visible for all to see. Yet all this was apparently accepted. Why? For a successful change it is not enough that there is just discontent. What is required is a profound and thorough conviction of the justice, necessity and importance of political and social rights. We are not talking about revolution as it is perceived in current times. We need a social revolution, a political revolution, an academic revolution, a moral revolution and most importantly a revolution of the mind. This across the board change will only occur when the people whose rights have been discarded and trampled on, stand up and no longer accept such a totalitarian regime.
With all that has been mentioned above, was it really that controversial stating that Pakistan is indeed a democratic state in name only? A “Government of the people, by the people, for the people? I think not. ”66 years ago a leader was in search of a nation. 66 years on a nation is in search of a leader. Is there anyone out there? Only time will tell.