Time will come!
Since the inception of Pakistan in 1947, there is a consistent struggle of the musical chair between democracy and dictatorship. The intervention of the establishment is so much engraved in our political system that still the democratic system is evolving and has not matured. This can be attributed to the shadows of colonialism on our political elite, judicial system, and establishment. The excellence and prosperity of a nation are not linked to any specific type of government but rather to the quality of it, flourishing the lives of the people. In contemporary times, as our democratic system and our institutions specifically, the judiciary is passing through an evolutionary process that will bear fruit when the time comes.
Democracy has not provided its fruit to the people of Pakistan because of the military interventions that started from the abrogation of the first constitution of 1956 by Iskander Mirza and then it keeps on going from Ayub Khan to Pervaiz Musharraf. But from then there is a kind of consistency in the democratization of the country, which is a positive indication. These interventions also had vacant space for the nationalist, regional, and ethnic-based political leaders and parties which benefit from them and become a cause for the division of the social strata across the provinces which consist of different ethnicities. And ultimately, this paves the way for the external elements to manipulate innocent people and use such people for such activities to destabilize Pakistan. It can be seen from the recent examples of the terrorist attack on the police lines in KPK, the KPO office, the army, and much more.
The political elite is also involved in the collapse of the Democratic system in the country. They got into power through political engineering with the powerful institutions in the country. Similar allegations are also promoted against PTI in 2018 by PMLN and others while now PTI is pushing the same allegations against the current government of Shahbaz Shareef. All these are also involved in corruption, nepotism, and power politics to engineering the institutions for them to come into power. If one looks at the history of the political leaders themselves, for instance, Benazir Bhutto, Nawaz Sharif, Imran Khan, etc., so they were oystered from their offices based on the allegations of corruption and misuse of power. So, the political leaders also took part in the derailment of democracy. Similarly, they also recklessly used the colonial era acts against their opponents and journalists, for instance, section 124A of the Pakistan Penal Code. The invalidation of this act by the LHC is a positive step towards refinement.
The main essence of democracy is the right to vote for the people and the political leaders are unaware of its importance and its cost. The elections are very expensive because it entails a huge budget for the elections after every five years. The sessions of the parliament and the senate are allocated around Rs 47 million and Rs 34 million budget for the fiscal year 2022-2023 respectively. Also, the political parties adjourned the sessions whenever they wanted for face-saving by referring to the quorum, and the money of the taxpayer citizens is wasted, without any formulation or amendment of the legislature. Imran Khan in the 2018 general elections contested the election from the five constituencies and then left four, while the cost of an election at one constituency is about Rs 80 to 90 million. So, all that money of the Pakistanis is wasted.
In the present sphere, political stability is lacking in Pakistan which creates problems not only at the macro level but at the micro level as well. Since the 2018 general elections, Pakistan is frequently lacking political stability. Imran Khan’s government was standing on few seats in the National Assembly and the same is the case with Shahbaz Sharif’s government after forming the government through an alliance of 13 political parties and some support from the power corridors of Pakistan. With political instability, institutions are also lacking the competence and responsiveness to serve the citizens of Pakistan.
Without ensuring internal security, and political stability, governance seems to be hypothetical. The announcement by TTP to end the ceasefire is also a matter of grave concern. Without guaranteeing and safeguarding the fundamental rights of the citizens, the country would also fail to deal with economic instability, which ultimately put a retro effect on the progression of the democratic system in the country. The current political division of the political parties and the polarization of the societies pose a huge threat to the institution’s performance as well. Due to polarization, the value of respecting each other’s opinions in the realm of politics is not there. A division is also created in intuitions as well such as parliament, judiciary, and in other institutions. This affects governance which is supposed to tackle the issues of the people and serve them.
The country is facing huge political instability connected with economic crises and the dire need of the day is fresh elections and to incur political stability. The remittances of Pakistan have reduced by around 10 percent in December 2023 as compared to December 2022 and that is the reason Pakistan’s economy is also stumbling as the Minister of Defense Khwaja Asif said that Pakistan had already defaulted. Due to the political instability and lack of economic policy consistency, foreign investments had also dropped as well as remittances due to which Pakistan is in the need of debt. The talks with IMF for the $1.1 billion out of the total 2.5 billion packages are also lagging even after the ninth review meeting ended up with no outcome. In this case, the Judiciary had to play its role and bound the election commission of Pakistan for a fresh and independent election according to the constitution of Pakistan. Because the election commission is not playing its role as an independent institution and is somehow delaying the electoral process. Also, there needs to be a charter on the economy in which all parties must be involved, and joint policy action must be taken to take out the country from the stumbling situation.
Student, National Defense University, Islamabad
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