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Enough Should Be Enough In Democracy

In Pakistan, we live in an age in which there is a crisis in democracy. Our two-party system (third one still emerging) is but a charade engineered by our corporate state. I think that democracy in our country doesn’t work. We are ruled by the big money. Billions are spent on elections with big events and glitzy advertising campaigns. This is not what democracy should be about. Indeed it undermines the very idea of democracy. Democracy when money is involved to the extent that it is in Pakistan becomes elitist and corporatist because only the elite and rich businessmen can afford to fund the election campaigns. Presently, being a politician is a career. Does it have to be? Democracy is easy when the economic pie is growing. It begins to creak and crack, however, when the pie is shrinking. The phenomenal impact and socio-economic damages induced by the monsoon of corruption and bad leadership on our beloved country bring tears to my eyes.

There are no major institutions in Pakistani society that are truly democratic. Instead we have a system in which corporate money bolsters the power of the corporate state. The reason for the democracy to fall in Pakistan is that people aren’t interested in politics anymore. Many of us living in the country are turned off by the whole political process. Things have been so corrupt and so dysfunctional during the so called democratic regimes that we have ceased to care. All I know is that something’s not right. And this corporate state is ruled by such a liberal elite who mouth progressive values while perpetuating inequality. We have come to see their moral posturing as a fraud.

Democracy must ensure checks and balances to the executive and guarantee transparency of decision-making. In a democracy the parliament, the media and sometimes the judiciary all should keep an eye on the executive and what is being done with the people’s money. They must be able to see if the executive is doing things that are detrimental to the country, are immoral, or even illegal. Unfortunately those institutions are not doing well and remain engaged only in protecting the right and wrong actions of the executive and depend only on lip service to keep the masses cool. Our democratic system is so anemic that I fear that it may no longer be a realistic mechanism for change.

My country is in dire straits, we are fast receding from any prospects of national harmony which is essential for progress and development. No one is safe in the country as kidnappers are daily on the prowl searching for their next victim. Gone are the days when it was only foreigners, Chinese and Western workers, and super rich people that used to be targets, now everybody is a potential kidnappers’ victim. There is so much corruption and crude power mongering, which appears to have degenerated into a bizarre competition for who can steal the most, display the worst impunity, be the most outlandish and these politicians will say they are playing politics. Worst of all to get ahead in their ‘playing politics’ they are succeeding in dividing the people along tribal, sectional and religious lines through various sinister propaganda and deceit. These are dangerous times for my dear country. There is no denying the fact that our dear country Pakistan is in a helpless crisis ridden state.

Even in the best of systems, it is the operators that make it work and not the Constitution or Act of Parliament per se. effectively! Unfortunately our Cabinet has become self-serving and anti-people. Never in the history of this country, not even in the military era, have we witnessed such a charade and travesty of the popular wish of the people as we have seen today. It is rather scandalous for the Cabinet, who are representatives of the people, to beat their chest and declare that their act which goes against the grain of the people’s interest is “strengthening economy”, “making history” and “maturing democracy”. Rampant liberalization of markets done by our so called democratic regimes against the will of the people of Pakistan has also brought its own challenges which have created complex problems for families and more than 80% people are now facing the consequences of liberalization of markets in shape of hunger, poverty, malnutrition of their children, illiteracy and lack of healthcare.  It is however left to our leaders to take the baton of leadership and spearhead a change that is needed and must come.

Hold on to your seats my dear Pakistanis. For we are entering a period when we will find out how strong Pakistani democracy really is… and what our values really are. Throughout time, democracy has proven to be a defective way to run the country. In the world we live in, a democratic government is a potential danger to civilization and at any point in time it could lead to a disaster. In Pakistan, a “democratic” government puts an unneeded strain on the economy for funding where money could be used elsewhere. For a democratic government to work there are many changes that will need to be made for it to be the best form of government. If we truly want “Public Servants” maybe we need to change the way we elect our leaders. The people should elect the ones who have no desire to lead. They have no need to pay large sums of money to have people know who they are and what they are about. They gravitate others to them through their actions, not their words. If those kinds of people had the chance to be elected everyone would benefit.

The Pakistan of my dream is a nation-state founded on justice and honesty of purpose. This is so because all great nations of the world thrive on justice. I want a Pakistan that has zero tolerance for corruption, and religious bigotry. Indeed, I want to see a Pakistan where people will proudly say “I am a Pakistani living in so, so and so country” and not a Pakistani of a particular state of origin! We Pakistanis, who think we are so much in control over everything and everyone, and can’t control time. We can not stop it from catching up with us and we can’t prevent the consequences of our actions. We, the people of Pakistan, ultimately prevail, and those in power are afraid of us. Yes, they are very much afraid. That is the reason, after all, for all the surveillance and the taking away of our civil liberties. Attempting to oppress millions and millions of free people is dangerous indeed. To achieve our dream of a decent Pakistan, we should elect best people to represent us. We all need to roll up our sleeves and soil our hands in work. There is no short cut to success than hard work! Dreaming dreams alone will not make it happen. Endless criticisms without providing viable alternatives will not make it happen either. It will happen only when we subsume our self interest for national interest. It will happen only when we say: ‘Enough is enough!

Shaukat Masood Zafar
Shaukat Masood Zafar
A well known freelance columnist writing for daily Pakistan Observer, and several other national and international websites and newspapers. Economy, Politics, and Agricultural & Rural Development are especially areas of his interest.

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