• Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Pakistan - Is it really a democracy?

Discussion in 'Pakistani Siasat' started by Imad.Khan, Sep 6, 2019.

  1. Imad.Khan

    Imad.Khan SENIOR MEMBER

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    Pakistan is a Democratic country, well that's what people tell me. But i am not really convinced that it is. Sure we have an elected Prime Minster, elected Chief Minister in each province, we also have the legislative assemblies to house the elected members, we even go through a whole election process and then watch the results being broadcasted live on the tele. I agree it looks like a proper democracy from every angle, and there is a saying "if it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck then it must be a duck" then howcome i am still not convinced.

    Lets start with the definition of Democracy, The word ‘democracy’ has its origins in the Greek language. It combines two shorter words: ‘demos’ meaning whole citizen living within a particular city-state and ‘kratos’ meaning power or rule. So it means the rule by all people. As per Free and Fair Election Network (FAFEN) the voter turnout for the GE 2018 elections was 51.99% down from 53.62% in GE2013 which is considered the highest voter turnout in any general elections in alteast the last 4 decades. So if almost half of the registered voters are not voting then we can't really call it a true democracy now can we? Lets call it a "Semi-Democracy".

    Lets now talk about the current "Semi-Democratic" system which is massively flawed and every aspect of it increases the distance from what would be considered democratic. I will list just the top ones.

    1. The Contestants

    In theory anyone can run for elections and get elected. But in reality people with influence and money are the only ones that get through. Now having influence is not a bad thing but its the way that influence is achieved. For example in Pakistan, most of the people that contest elections are usually large land owners or industrialists. Not exactly the type of people that you would pick to care for the masses.

    2. The Voters

    Every vote has equal weightage sounds good to the ear, but again in reality its actually the opposite. How can a PHD and a person that can't even write his name be able to decide on which party has a better manifesto? Similarly how can a person from the city know the issues of the people living in the small villages or vice versa.

    3. The Elections

    Pakistani system is a constituency based system using the first past the post method to elect members. The largest flaw of this method is that in the end there could be more people that voted against the party/member that won. Not really a democracy if you really think about it now is it?

    4. Formation of the government .

    One of the largest flaw in the current system is that, to form a government a party will need to acquire certain number of seats, failing to do so they have to persuade other parties and independents to join. The smaller parties are those that not many people voted for in the first place but now they get to play the king makers. Majority of the time these smaller parties force the larger parties to deviate from their goals and concede important ministerial positions for themselves. Again not very democratic is it?

    5. The Cabinet.

    Every member of the cabinet (except advisers) needs to be a elected person and he/she doesn't have to educated or hold an relevant experience in the field they are made ministers of. Now this in the biggest flaw in the current system. Now alot of people tell me that the ministers job is management and don't really need to get into the nitty gritty of the ministry, to them i put forward this question: Would you hire an uneducated or inexperienced person to manage your company?

    6. Resource draining system

    Pakistan has 1 Federal Parliament (342 MNAs), 1 Senate (104 Senators) & 6 provincial legislative assemblies, (Punjab = 371, Sindh = 168, KPK = 145, Balochistan = 65, AJK = 49 & GB = 33), thats a whopping total of 1277 legislators. Considering the pay and the perks these people get and the upkeep thats spent on the legislative houses do you really consider this to be a value adding especially keeping in mind that Pakistan is a financially constrained country?

    My Conclusion:

    Pakistan is not really a democracy, its a mashed up version of might is right and thats why it hasn't worked and it will not work in the future. Sir George Barnard Shaw said "Democracy substitutes election by the incompetent many for appointment by the corrupt few." Pakistan is the perfect example.
     
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  2. Imad.Khan

    Imad.Khan SENIOR MEMBER

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  3. The Accountant

    The Accountant SENIOR MEMBER

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    You are right. As a wise person once exeessed his feelings about Pakistan.

    Democracy is the best revenge.
     
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  4. Shane

    Shane SENIOR MEMBER

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    Pakistan's democracy cannot survive without oversight of deep state. Not with an enemy next door looking to entice any and everyone it can; be it the bureaucracy, politicians, men in uniform, our businessmen or liberal avtivists.

    The state will have to formalize oversight of accountability infrastructure i.e. something similar to NSC's role or keep it informal and flawed as it is now.

    The sooner we learn to live within the confines of oversight, a fear of getting caught if we do harm the country, the better for all of us.

    The democracy or any shape or form of it, be it the current parliamentary or the much talked about presidential form of governance can only survive and become beneficial if the state institutions are strong.
     
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  5. Imad.Khan

    Imad.Khan SENIOR MEMBER

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    The great Greek philosopher Socrates was staunchly against Democracy.
     
  6. Asimz

    Asimz FULL MEMBER

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    Pakistan should have presidential democracy I hate this parliamentary democracy not a single thing is done under it.
     
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  7. Imad.Khan

    Imad.Khan SENIOR MEMBER

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    Stay tuned for the Part 2, i will be proposing some alternate solution.
     
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  8. Asimz

    Asimz FULL MEMBER

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    Thx,I think more power should be given to local bodies which are direct answerable to pm or president.
     
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  9. The Accountant

    The Accountant SENIOR MEMBER

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    The concept of oversight of deep state is not new. This is applicable everywhere even in US. Look at US, the policy making is in chaos due to rebellious nature of trump against its deep state.

    Pakistan deep state was very powerful and strong and was the core source of our development in early decades. despite of starting from a feeble economy and infrastructure, we flourish in the first three decades but then comes the politicians; where two politicians (Bhutto and Mujeeb) starts maligning components of deep state ( both bureaucracy and military).

    Bhutto took side of military and became there favorite child and ditch the bureaucracy, resulting in transfer off all top officers (the brain of Pakistan Grade-20 and above officers) to foreign offices. He managed to manipulate with the quota system and CSS. He brought a new inexperienced but obedient bureaucracy. The mistake done in 70s is haunting us till to date.

    IK has tried to rebuild us as a nation but there are too many leeches and snakes in his sleeves and are continuously weakening him. Thanks to parliamentarian democracy he has no option. He is trying his best but is being black mailed by his own party people.

    The only strength he has is the power of public and we should keep our nerves calm down and should believe in him as if he fails we will be at complete mercy of criminals
     
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  10. Asimz

    Asimz FULL MEMBER

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    I sincerely wish we could have a referendum to end this parliamentary blackmail system.
     
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  11. The Accountant

    The Accountant SENIOR MEMBER

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    no use. masses are kept illeterate to make any such impact
     
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  12. Kambojaric

    Kambojaric SENIOR MEMBER

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    What is a democracy is a debated question in the first place and the answers are always going to be subjective. Some university studies from the US and other countries (Princeton University in 2014 most notably) argue that the US rather than being a true democracy, is an oligarchy wherein only the elite class is realistically able to participate in the political process due to the financial constraints involved with running election campaigns and lobbying.

    The Economist has its own view of democracy, and bases this view on barometers that are reminiscent of what we can term "western liberal democracy" i.e. democracy is not only the political process involved with elections and voting, but also the freedoms that come along with this such as freedom of expression, religion etc. As per this definition Pakistan is a "flawed democracy".

    With regards to voter turnout, low turnouts is often a sign of voter displeasure with politicians. In the Japanese election in 2017 voter turnout was 54%. Many countries have laws forcing voters to vote (Belgium, Australia). I dont think we can necessarily call a country undemocratic because many people choose not to exercise their democratic right.


    I like Aristotles take on this:

    page 72, Aristotle: The Politics and the Constitution of Athens

    The general idea is that democracies over time will slowly phase towards becoming oligarchies, as it is inevitable that privileged groups will seek to manipulate the existent power structures towards their own benefit. A perfect example is probably the Medici family of Florence, which initially started off within the "democratic" framework existent at that time in the Tuscan city state, but gradually through their banks and presence in the Vatican were able to gain more and more power as each generation passed, so much so that by the time of Alessandro de' Medici in the 16 century there was no point for the Medicis to even act like they were the democratic representatives of the people of Florence, and they officially transformed the state into a Duchy.

    With regards to industralists and landlords in Pakistan, yes they very much run the show but an argument can be made that the same thing happens in many other countries we normally consider democracies, notably the US.(https://www.theguardian.com/comment...lections-battle-billionaires-civic-inequality).


    This is the ship of state analogy of Socrates, where the ship represents society. We would not allow passengers who have no idea on how to steer a ship to have a say in how the ship is to be directed especially during a storm, and its a good argument to make but one which can and has led to tyrants in the past using it to claim they will better serve the interests of the people without any accountability. The communists used it in Russia until they made themselves more "equal" than other men (to use the analogy used by George Orwell in Animal Farm). Pakistan has had several experiences with dictatorships, and none of them have ended well.

    The First Past the Post (FPtP) has its benefits and flaws. It usually leads to majority rule and is used in many countries generally regarded as democracies including the UK, Canada and the US. The downside is that this leads to scenarios where incumbent dominant political parties are virtually assured of continued dominance unless something very drastic happens. The Democrats and the Republicans in the US, or Labor and the Conservatives in the UK have dominated their respective political systems for decades. In India which also uses this system we have seen Congress vs BJP. Even in Pakistan PML and PPP have been the dominant players. PTI has been able to advance partially because of the outstanding scenario in Pakistan with regards to poverty, electricity, jobs etc. but also because the PTI in order bypass the rigid structure of the FPtP method, has had to compromise on its ideals and enlist veterans from the dominant parties (SMQ e.g.) in order to beat the established players.

    Nevertheless I dont think we can discount Pakistan being a democracy simply because this method is used although I entirely agree that proportional representation is better suited to a country like Pakistan, where multiple parties exist and get overlooked because of the FPtP method, and PTIs rise would have happened much sooner had FPtP method not been used.

    This point of yours in essence negates the previous one. You do not desire a FPtP method which is designed to ensure majority rule, but at the same time do not want smaller parties (which inevitably will become much more influential in a proportional system-non FPtP method) from having a strong say in the political process either.

    A flaw it may be but is it undemocratic? This is the standard norm in most democracies throughout the globe today.

    The alternative is a dictatorship? Even dictators have to establish patronage systems, meaning they have to divert enough funds to parties with substantial interest and influence in order to gain their support. People in Pakistan today often talk about the ill gotten gains of the Sharif family (Ittefaq Group). When did they get hold of these companies? During a dictators time. Just because a dictator is in power does not mean that he or she is free from paying people with influence. Sure we can theoretically say that there are too many parliamentarians and they receive too much money and should therefore be removed, but this will simply mean one group of influential people receiving state funds being replaced by another which is even less accountable. No man/dictator can rule on his own.

    A solid argument can be made that Pakistan is not a democracy (depending on how one exactly defines democracy) but at the same time Pakistan is not some exception set apart from the global norms on this discussion. Might is right virtually every where and whats also true everywhere is that power corrupts. Give any autocrat no matter how benign power and over time this will corrupt him.
     
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2019
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  13. Taimoor Khan

    Taimoor Khan ELITE MEMBER

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    I care less what we are, only interested in good governance by ultra nationalist patriots , who live, breath and die for Pakistan, without split loyalties and no liabilities among foreign nations.

    Democracy these days is churning lunatics anyway, Modi, Natanyahu and Trump are prime examples with Boris Johnson catching up the distinguished list.
     
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  14. Mujahid Memon

    Mujahid Memon FULL MEMBER

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    excellent analysis. Espacially point # 2, 3 and 5.

    Point#5 is very strong.
     
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  15. Omar Al-Deek

    Omar Al-Deek FULL MEMBER

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    I don't think democracies actually exist. I don't think I know of any country that is actually a democracy. I don't believe in democracy anyway, though.