Democracy in Pakistan

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Democracy in Pakistan
Posted on January 24, 2012 by admin786| Leave a comment
Anwar Syed
We hear almost every day some commentators saying that democracy in Pakistan is in danger of being overthrown by hostile forces, and further that the democracy we do have is not the genuine article. These observations will bear scrutiny. It is not clear who the foes of democracy are and what they expect to gain from its demise. One explanation may be that the army chief and the DG ISI, who have traditionally exercised decisive influence in this country’s politics and governance, do not want an effective rival. The ISI is indeed a state within a state. It is a huge organisation that employs hundreds of highly trained persons from a variety of professional backgrounds. It has access to virtually unlimited funds for the disbursement of which it is accountable to no external agency. It is autonomous in setting its own agenda. If democracy worked well, parliament would be supreme not only in theory but in actual fact. Its agent — the prime minister and his colleagues — would operate as a preponderant centre of power whose writ would be obeyed in all departments of the government, including the army chief and the DG ISI. The security establishment would not welcome this arrangement. Chosen representatives of the people make laws and policies in a democracy and a committee of their members, called the cabinet of ministers, implements them. This condition is met if fair and honest elections are regularly held. Since Ziaul Haq’s death, elections have been held in 1988, 1990, 1993, 1996, 2002 and 2008. They are likely to be held again in 2012. In what way then is democracy in Pakistan lacking? The government resulting from the elections of 2008 is perceived as being corrupt and incompetent. Many commentators ask what good democracy then is. This is not an appropriate question. The quality of governance that democracy produces will depend on the nation’s political culture. It is...
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