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Democracy in Pakistan 1

  • Date Submitted: 12/11/2011 07:09 AM
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Democracy in Pakistan

Hasan - Askari Rizvi
House No. - 132, Block – C Lahore Email: har51@hotmail.com

Paper prepared for the Project on State of Democracy in South Asia
as part of the Qualitative Assessment of Democracy

Lokniti (Programme of Comparative Democracy) Centre for the Study of Developing Societies Delhi
1

Democracy and participatory governance are popular political notions in today’s world. Fair and free elections are the key pre-requisite of democracy. However, democracy lacks substance unless the electoral process is coupled with the supremacy of the constitution, the rule of law, and civil and political rights and freedoms for the people. The state must practice the principle of equal citizenship irrespective of religion, caste, ethnicity and regional background. It must also ensure equality of opportunity to all for advancement in social, economic and political domains and guarantee security of life and property of its citizens. While it easy for the rulers, political leaders and parties, and others to pronounce their commitment to these principles, the real challenge lies in making them operational. The key question is how does one create and sustain institutions and processes that reflect the spirit of democracy and participatory governance? A large number of states are unable to fulfill these conditions. The commitment of many rulers, leaders, and organizations to democracy is merely rhetorical or they view democracy as an instrument to achieve power and then implement a partisan non-democratic agenda. Others selectively employ some aspects of democracy to create a façade. Still others hold elections, establish elected legislative bodies and install elected governments but do not empower these institutions and the people holding key positions in them. Power is thus exercised by an elite group while a semblance of democracy is created to legitimize its rule. These operational realities create the problem of quality and substance of...

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