Updated: Jun 11
Pakistan's democracy, undoubtedly, has not taken stable roots since its inception. In the history of all hitherto, Pakistan could not establish democratic norms and practices in the real sense. As far as the present time is concerned, the current political situations of the state manifest the failure of democracy. However, the term democracy represents, according to Ibrahim Lincolns, the rule of people, for the people, and by the people. The politico-administrative and socio-economic loopholes are underlying responsible factors behind this dilemma along with posing multifarious repercussions. Currently, effective remedial measures are needed to cut down the roots of the fragile democracy for the state's peace and prosperity.
Many people believe that democracy is not possible in Pakistan because of corruption. This is true. However, corruption is only one reason why democracy fails in Pakistan; other factors also play an important role. One of these factors is religion. Religious extremists often use religion as a means of gaining control over society. They try to impose their beliefs on others through violence and intimidation. These actions make it difficult for democratic institutions to function properly. Political instability is another factor that makes democracy fail in Pakistan. It is common for governments to come into power and then fall out of power. This happens when the ruling party loses elections.
Historical Analysis - How democracy failed in Pakistan?
Loss of adept political leader: In political history, Pakistan has remained in the crunches of ups and downs after its independence. Besides this, the death of loyal leaders was one of the daunting threats to the democracy of Pakistan- Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah and Liaquat Ali Khan. Jinnah lost his life on 11th September 1948. Afterward, the assassination of the first Prime Minister, on 16th October 1951, dragged the state into an erratic democracy. The assassination of Liaquat Ali khan transformed democracy into an anti-democratic state. As a result of these deaths, there was no proficient leader to handle the newly-established state's affairs and circumstances that enhanced the fragile democracy. Therefore, It was the major hurdle in the establishment of stable democracy.
Weakening of All India Muslim League (AIML) Party: Undeniably, the All India Muslim League's(AIML) demolition became the fate owing to the casualty of Muslim political leaders. The party, which was built to safeguard the political and social interests of Muslims of India, became weak and ineffective. Consequently, the general elections were held too late in the state which is the backbone for the nation to choose adept and qualified leaders. The first general elections were held on 7 December 1970 for electing the members of the general assembly. Hence, the wreckage of the Muslim League was one of the leading causes of the failure of democracy in Pakistan.
Delay in Framing Constitution: It is pertinent to demonstrate that delay in framing the constitution is a vital responsible element in the failure of the democracy of Pakistan. The state framed its first constitution after a struggle of nine years. It was framed on 29th February 1956 by Chaudhary Muhammad Ali khan and took effect on 23 March 1956. After the creation of Pakistan, there was no constitution on which the state could govern and run. The fundamental rights of the citizens were not up to the mark. Masses were unaware of the law of justice, equality, and law enforcement, which are the primary factors of real democracy, and the punishment in case of any violation. Accordingly, the late framing of the constitution was the primary factor in worsening the democratization of the state.
Weak Institutional Crisis and Institutional Imbalance:
Importantly, ineffective institutions and institutional imbalance majorly triggered the state into unstable democracy which is one of the critical causes of the failure of Pakistan's democracy. Apart from this, it is universally acknowledged that where there are weak institutions there is no development as well as advancement in socio-economic and politico-administrative realms.
Furthermore, an ineffective political system boosted corruption in the state along with other dilemmas. It lacked robust, active, and endurable political institutions which could restrain regular elections. It lacked the institution that could not build the trust of the masses into a democracy. There was a dire need for a facilitative environment for democracy to develop into real meaning. Therefore, the institutional issues and imbalances were one of the essential causes of the failure of democracy in Pakistan.
The fluctuation between Civil and Military governments:
Since the formation of the first Constitution, there had always been an interchange of governments between ineffective elected civilians and authoritarian military governments. It adversely caused Pakistan's democracy to fetch on the footing level. Failure of government created a vacancy for the army which was more ordered and effective than the civilian authorities to interfere in the political arena of the state. The actual involvement of the army in civilian matters and concerns commenced with Martial Law in Lahore in 1953 to prevent the clashes between Ahmadis and Sunnis.
Afterward, field Martial Law Administrator General Ayub Khan governed the country from 1958 to 1969. Moreover, General Yahya Khan imposed martial Administration from 1969 to 1971. Besides these, General Zia-ul-Haq from 1977 to 1989 and General Pervaiz Musharraf ruled the nation from 1999 to 2008. Consequently, all these martial administrators banned the political parties and gatherings, censorship of media, abolishment of Assemblies, and the annulment of constitutions. They had weakened all the fundamental pillars of true democracy. Therefore, the failure of democracy became the destiny of Pakistan.
Feudalism - a big challenge to democracy in Pakistan: Before the inception of Pakistan, the British government imposed the concept of feudalism in the subcontinent which took effect after the independence of the state. Undoubtedly, feudalism and democracy are two unmatched systems. On one hand, feudalism is driven by the dogmas of oppression, enslavement, slavery, and injustice. It manipulates the voters' choice. On the other hand, democracy demonstrates participation, peace, unity, equality, and autonomy.
That is the reason why Pakistan's government and parliament have always remained a non-democratic system. Additionally, such non-democratic norms had transformed into the political system of the state that had always hindered the free and fair elections of the masses. The public can not put a vote in the right place due to the pressure of the feudal. Currently, feudalism is, also, hurling the state that is dragging Pakistan into undemocratic norms and principles.
All in all, it is unambiguous that feudalism has played a responsible role in the failure of democracy in Pakistan.
Illiteracy- a major cause: Widespread illiteracy is the major social pitfall in the failure of Pakistan's democracy.it is universally acknowledged that the lack of education among the masses poses a dire threat to the democracy of any state. Nevertheless, Pakistan is included in the list of those countries. Illiteracy is a leading hindrance to a lasting democracy. According to 1998 data, the literacy rate of Pakistan was 43.93 percent. Unfortunately, the majority of people are illiterate and they are unaware of the value of voting. Recently, the literacy rate of Pakistan has been 62.3 percent
which manifests that an approximate population of 60 million is uneducated in the state. In addition to this, for a successful democracy, the electorate must be literate and politically aware. They must be fully conscious of their rights and privileges. Therefore, a lack of education in the masses has always been a major hindrance to establishing a stable democracy.
Current Political Clashes between Government and Opposition: Furthermore, the country is facing non-democratic practices and political instability. Former prime minister Imran Khan was propelled out of office by a vote of the no-confidence motion. Currently, the state is experiencing an economic and political crisis. The current government of Shahbaz Sharif has failed in decision-making and is striving hard to find its feet, while the former prime minister is leading protests in the country. Moreover, Imran Khan is criticizing the government's policies and dragging for new and fresh elections. Hence, it can be propounded that political conflicts between the current government and the opposition are the major culprits in the failure of Pakistan's democracy. Consequences of Failure of Democracy in Pakistan: The country is experiencing numerous impacts and adverse repercussions on socioeconomic and politico-administrative levels. Pakistan is a welfare nation that has been striving for democracy since its independence. The present government of Pakistan presents the black image in history. Resultantly, it has boosted unemployment, inflation, abject poverty, and micro as well as macro economic crises. Moreover, the health and education sectors are in the middle of the worst situations. There is a lack of equality, freedom, and rule of law in the state which are the fundamental pillars of a strong democracy. The current democracy has only emerged with abject corruption, political instability, institutional imbalance, and low living standards for the masses in Pakistan. Remedial measures:
It is mandatory for the current government of Pakistan that it should take stringent remedial measures to ensure the setting of true democracy in the state. However, firstly, good administration, accountability policy, and a merit system are the need of the hour in Pakistan. It is validated that democracy cannot be achieved in the real sense in a country.
Promotion of education among the masses:
Firstly, education must be ensured among the masses so that they get awareness in electing adept and skillful leaders. It can be done by releasing education funds and scholarships for the needy as well as assiduous students. Owing to education, the community is well acquainted with the rights, proficient in research, and can provide an educated opinion which is the basic source of a successful democracy.
Ensuring independent media in democratization: Secondly, the media should be independent and out of the bounds of government to highlight the main issues the country is coping with including social, political, and economic evils. The media can mold the mindset of the public. Media groups are completely capable of strengthening their code of behavior for fact-checking and regulating workers' rights and wages, which is critical. If they do not act, the state may exploit this gap to encroach on more land, as it is doing right now. As a result of government-controlled media, the public can't choose an effective governor. Hence, fair and fresh media is mandatory for the democratic state.
Imposing the rule of law:
Thirdly, the rule of law is a need for an hour for the better management of the democratic state. Most modern democracies adhere to the rule of law as a core premise. Constitutions contain the state's fundamental and, in many cases, supreme law, and the rule of law mandates that those principles be followed above all other laws. In addition to this, constitutions also protect core principles and values by making amending them difficult. By prohibiting modifications, some constitutions protect the longevity of certain concepts and ideas.
The effective legislature and executive:
Fourthly, the legislature and executives must be effective to maintain the vision of democracy in Pakistan. Legislation is one of the most significant factors of government in establishing society and protecting citizens and their fundamental rights. It specifies amongst others the rights and accountabilities of people and authorities to whom the legislation applies.
Assurance of effectiveness of basic pillars of Democracy:
Fifthly, the basic pillars of democracy such as equality, justice, security, and liberty must be guaranteed to transform the failed democracy into a successful democratic state. It creates a sense of accountability and responsibility. Thus, effective pillars of democracy play a crucial role in strengthening democracy in Pakistan.
Free and Fair Elections:
For establishing a true democracy, free and fair elections are mandatory in any case. The government must take modern methods of voting-electronic voting machines as one the best methods to vote without any blunder. Hence, free and fair elections are key factors in this regard.
Nevertheless, the continuous system of fragile democracy can lead Pakistan to either communist or theocratic form of government. It is pertinent, for Pakistan, here to take the Pakistani government should take the example of China and Singapore. China is not a democratic government but is still the globe's second-largest economy. On the other hand, Singapore was also not a democratic country when it got sovereignty. The first president Mr. Lee put Singapore on the map of the world and led the country towards peace and prosperity.
In a nutshell, democracy is not a successful form of government, especially in the case of Pakistan. However, if it is flourishing in the United States of America and India, it is due to their political and social atmospheres and policies. The socio-political arena in Pakistan does not promote democracy up to mark.