Penury of Democratic Culture in Pakistan

Spread the love

Shah Nawaz Kathia
Democratic process and democratic culture are two different yet co-existing phenomenons. Whereas the former can be found intermittently in the history of Pakistan ; but the later is still absent. Thereby, Pakistan is a state with penury of democratic culture. It can be seen in lack of social, cultural and religious pluralism ; rampant corruption, extractive institutions and shambled accountability system ; and democratic process devoid of impartiality. Apart from that the present economic health of Pakistan, which is in jeopardy, is also a pathology ensued by undemocratic norms. In Pakistan, the conduct of elections is deemed as the success of democracy but merely this process is not the touchstone of democracy. Electoral process is a necessary but not exclusive part of democracy . Which, in the words of Noam Chomsky, ‘is not the end of our work, it is just the beginning of long path towards democracy’ which Pakistan is finding hard to tread on.Ever since its inception, Pakistan has failed to provide access to the inclusive institutions to its citizens. Inclusiveness of institutions is a trademark of democracy which our country is devoid of. It not only leads to red tape conundrum but also baulks public participation . These extractive institutions are aloofed from gregarious masses. This is one among major causes of democratic failures as enunciated by the writers of book “Why Nations Fail” . This institutional breakdown not only serves the ulterior motives of Pakistani feudo-industrial elite but also makes hideous way towards lack of proper mechanism of inter-institutional collaboration. This is vividly manifest in the working systems of Anti-corruption department, National Accountability Bureau and other law enforcement agencies. Hence, the penury of inclusiveness of institutions of Pakistan begets penury of democratic culture .The distant dream of free and independent media outlets in Pakistan is another side of failed democratic system of Pakistan. Since inception, successive military and political governments have tried assorted methods to control media for their respective benefits. For instance ,in a recent couple of years , the PTI government has introduced the infamous draconian PECA Ordinance to stifle dissent thereby deviating from democratic norms of freedom of expression. But thanks be to the judicial activism that it was declared to be contrary to the fundamental rights enshrined by the Constitution of Pakistan, 1973. Apart from that, the present coalition administration has tried to imitate its predecessors by adopting different methods ; banishing journalists from different mainstream media outlets and initiating the subsequent flurry of FIRs against them. This depicts the authoritative and dictatorial behaviour of the ruling elite that denies the freedom of expression which is a fundamental right and a supreme democratic ideal. Intra-party elections and picking experienced politicians from grass-root level are parts of democratic culture which Pakistan miserably lack. Since its very being of an erstwhile colonial territory, it needs massive reforms to imbibe democratic norms in masses and political system . Democratic culture seldom prevails where political parties are serving the dynastic and egotistical populist leaders. This set-up is devoid of intra-party elections. Moreover, discouraging political decision making based on the consultation of the members of party exquisitely depicting the passive behaviour of colonial subjects infront of the colonizers. It is high time Pakistan learn from Sri Lanka where the authoritative ruling Rajapaksha family destroyed the fate of the whole country. It not only promotes rampant corruption and nepotism, but also institutional lethargy.Pluralism in the society is also a democratic ideal that buds from democratic culture. Sad to say, Pakistan has abysmal condition in this regard. Social segregation, religious bigotry and rise of populism are badly damaging the societal fabrics. This leads to not only the demise of democratic values but discourages tourism and foreign direct investment in Pakistan as well. The arson attack on the minority person in Sialkot is a vivid example. Rising populism and bigotry is hideous for the democratic peace necessary for well-being of masses. The present situation ensued by the alleged US-led regime change in Pakistan is further worsening the prevailing political polarization in Pakistan. In addition to polarization in internal politics, it is providing chauvinistic nationalism an environment to thrive thereby evoking the sentiments of anti-Americanism and xenophobia.All this democratic collapse has put us to a dreadful precipice. If the country is to survive, the inculcation of democratic ideals among masses is crucial. Otherwise, it is leading towards the moral deterioration, institutional collapse, economic breakdown, social chaos and further civil war. The mere conduct of elections and the introduction of provincial autonomy through the much trumpeted 18th amendment is of no use when the democratic culture is unknown to this institutional process. Democratic culture does not prevails at once, it comes with ambling foots by slowing disseminating and imbibing democratic norms in the society. For the fruition of this culture, the agents of socialization must contribute positively, media outlets should report scrupulously and masses should discourage dynastic and populist con men.

Similar Posts