Pakistan’s Democracy at a Crossroads

Democracy in Pakistan has historically witnessed multiple deaths in infancy by repeated military takeovers due to a number of reasons. The dilemma of failure of political leadership in initial years to take prompt decisions regarding the type of government and powers of federating units was the first act of weakening the foundations of a strong democratic setup in Pakistan. By delaying these decisions and not holding elections, which is the very foundation of democracy, the initial political leadership undermined establishment of democratic culture and norms by attempts to continue in power by any means which also included obtaining support of military establishment by giving it a formal... more

Free and Fair Elections – A Test Case for Democracy

Though democracy is not all about elections, but still the electoral process has extreme significance in a democratic system as it is the cornerstone of superstructure of democracy. The electoral process gives right to individuals to elect their representatives who ultimately influence political foundation and direction of a government. In any civilized setup, while using the term elections, transparency of the whole process i.e., the same being free and fair is by default covered in the meaning of the term election. This has also been accepted as fundamental human right in the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights which sates in its Article 21 that "Everyone has the right to take... more

Personality Politics

The other day, I had some free time on hand. Browsing aimlessly on the internet, a link to the Election Commission of Pakistan website presented itself and I, for reasons unknown, clicked on it. There was a link of code of conduct for elections. That intrigued me and I decided to read through more than 40 salient points in the document. I have to say, that was an interesting read. There were points on even the sizes of promotional material candidates have to use. There was a point which particularly caught my attention. 1. Criticism of other political parties and opponent candidates shall be confined to their policies and programmes, past record and work. Parties and candidates shall... more

WOMEN’S ELECTORAL PARTICIPATION – A CASE OF PATRIARCHAL GOVERNANCE

Pakistan is blessed to have as many equally, if not more, talented intelligent and hard working women as men. We have Oscar as well as a Noble prize winning females in the country. We have Shiza Farhan, who added to the global recognition of Pakistani women’s talents by making it to Forbe’s list of 30 under 30 entrepreneurs. Nevertheless, when it comes to how well women fare in empowerment and decision making in general, the situation in Pakistan is not encouraging. Women in Pakistan have failed to break free from the shackles of the patriarchal structures at household and societal levels that stringently govern their lives. As a result, power and influence of women in the private and... more

PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES – CHALLENGES OF CASTING VOTES

As per projected estimates[1], there are approximately 5.035 million persons with disabilities (PWDs) in Pakistan. Worrisome is the fact that only 14% of PWDs work, while the rest are all reliant upon family members for financial support. Even more worrying is that 1.4 million (28.09% of total PWDs) are children of school going age that do not have access to education. The question for us as a society is: are we doing enough to help facilitate the inclusion of these PWDs in the spectrum of normal life? The statistics presented, speak otherwise. PWDs are missing from all major streams of life. Their participation in socio-economic and political activities is limited by their characterization... more

AGITATION STRENGTHENS DEMOCRACY BUT MAKES LIFE MISERABLE

I, like tens of thousands of others, commute from Rawalpindi to Islamabad for work every day. Every day, I make my way through the hustle and bustle of heavy traffic to get to work on time; to meet my deadlines; to be productive. Men and women, old and young, some on their own vehicles, others on public transport, irrespective of whether it is raining or scorching heat, need to commute daily. We all need to get to our offices to do our work, to make a living. We need free movement to perform our lives as normal humans, to perform domestic chores, to function with optimum efficacy. Alas, far too often, our lives are disturbed as a result of political agitations that are neither peaceful nor... more

ONLY AN AUTONOMOUS ECP CAN GUARANTEE FREE AND FAIR ELECTIONS

The most important ingredient of democracy is the electoral exercise in which people surrender their will to their chosen representatives providing them an opportunity of deliverance in a given time frame. Though the delivery period of governance has a mechanism of accountability through formal state institutions, however, performance appraisal of the elected representatives is also carried out to make them accountable to the people through an electoral exercise to complete the democratic cycle. In other words, the edifice of democracy is raised on the foundations of elections which must be free and fair so that will of the people is exercised by their true representatives. ... more

Democracy Blog: Evolution of Democracy in Pakistan

Pakistan is sixth most populous country in the world, created on the basis of popular will of people in 1947 with the vision to have a liberal, moderate and democratic parliamentary federation. Soon after independence, Pakistan adopted British legacy constitutional framework and introduced the parliamentary democracy, following much from the Government of India Act 1935 - the last constitution of British India.However, Pakistan being a postcolonial state, the democratic experience was underpinned by the steel frame of bureaucracy and political stability and institutionalized democratic set up remained a distant dream. The country has a checkered history with a few interludes of democratic... more

Improving the Legal Framework to Curb Electoral Violence

The phenomenon of electoral violence is a major issue in nascent democracies of the world. In order to curb electoral violence, a multi-pronged approach is adopted all over the world which includes transparency in preparation of voters’ lists, delimitation of constituencies, freedom to vote without any extraneous political, social or economic pressures, transparent polling and result compilation process and a fair and swift electoral dispute resolution mechanism. The trust of voters on the transparency of these processes leads to a higher level of acceptability of the electoral process which itself is a mitigating factor for violence. As elections represent a contest for power, the very... more

Democracy: The most essential and fundamental element

Democracy is the most essential and fundamental element for managing the affairs of society systematically. Democracy and participatory governance are popular political patterns in the modern world. In a broader sense democracy encompasses the leading features; fair and free election process, supremacy of the constitution, the rule of law, and freedom for the people. In other words democratic state must practice the principles of equal citizenship irrespective of religion, caste, ethnicity and regional background. It must also ensure equality of opportunity to all for advancement in social, political and economic domains and guarantee security of life and property to its citizens. well... more

Democracy: How wrongly do we strive?

Democracy was once considered a phenomenon that meant that, it was a government that was organized for the people, by the people and of the people. Today, Pakistan remains a paradox in the world. Democracy alone has been one of the biggest factor that plunged back Pakistan from the heights of justice, national growth and better economy for the poor class. The providence of democracy in Pakistan has only been injustice, questions on national solidarity and the show of power of the elite. Alas! How wrongly do we strive to build and maintain this nation? There was a time when Pakistan was considered a respectable country. Today, our politicians are famous for getting loans and literally asking... more

Democracy is a universal value

Democracy is a universal value based on the freely expressed will of people to determine their own political, economic, social and cultural systems and their full participation in all aspects of their lives. While democracies share common features, there is no single model of democracy. Activities carried out by the United Nations in support of efforts of Governments to promote and consolidate democracy are undertaken in accordance with the UN Charter, and only at the specific request of the Member States concerned. The UN General Assembly, in resolution A/62/7 (2007) encouraged Governments to strengthen national programmes devoted to the promotion and consolidation of democracy, and... more

Why does Women’s Empowerment Matter?

Women's empowerment is a complex and evolving concept that is constantly being defined, and re-defined. It is said to be about women’s increased access to material resources such as land, money, credit and income, availability of decent employment opportunities that involve good working conditions, access to power through representation in political and decision- making bodies, the freedom to make choices in life, enjoyment of basic rights granted in the constitution and international agreements, equal access to quality education and health facilities, mobility to be able to access various facilities, and control over one's body, sexuality and reproductive choices. These are the areas,... more

Youth and the Significance of the Vote

Vote is the act of showing your choice or opinion in an election which is a cornerstone of every democratic country. By voting, people select their representatives who make the laws and policies. The prime part of voting in an election is the ‘Right of Vote’ which is the fundamental democratic right of every eligible voter. The legitimacy of governments lies in the fact that it is elected by the people. The higher number of vote results in more powerful government and it has more legitimate power. This leads to more efficient governments that can prosper the development of the country by stabilizing its political situation. Moreover, voting is a powerful way to send a message to... more

Shifting The Media from Devastation to Evolution

Media is a force that may produce effects on the society positive or negative but it depends how much the driving force is aware of its aftershocks once a message is disseminated to masses. Governments do use media as a source of manipulation and are engaged in setting the agenda of masses at large scale through media sources. If this force intended for right direction it will produce productive results for the society as “Development Journalist” the term introduced in late 90s is still as much applicable as it was after the disastrous use of media for sole purposes by west forces to attain the power in general. Political system nurturing needs the fertilizer of healthy and free flow of... more