The Ghost of Poverty
“Government is of the people, by the people and for the people.”
This is what Lincoln has to say about Democracy. The above statement of this great statesman says it all. A form of Government which is made for the people, by the people around and it consists of the people from within.
This is what Democracy is all about but it is not in the purest of its form at this moment. A huge total of 167 countries in the world are running under the form of Government which is called Democracy and Pakistan is one of those countries. Different types of democracies prevail in Pakistan at different times. The constitution of Pakistan is now a backing a Parliamentary form of Government but in the previous constitutions like 1956 and 1962, we had Presidential form of Government. The constitution at this moment is an amended version of 1973, which is following the Parliamentary form of Government.
According to Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the Quaid-e-Azam,
“Pakistan is made for the betterment of the people living in it. People will themselves select their Leader and it’s the responsibility of the Leader to fulfill the needs of the people and work day and night for this Motherland”
From the day of inception of Pakistan, the people are struggling for a better form of Government and they have selected Democracy as the best one. But it’s a misfortune for the people of Pakistan that the Democracy could not continue for long and it is derailed off and on. Military rules have dented Pakistan’s democracy in the history of just 65 years. According to the democratic index of 2012, Pakistan is on the 106th number in the world with a democratic score of just 4.55. Norway is at the top of the chart with a score of above 9.5. When we see the poverty index, we see Norway at the top with least poverty and Pakistan is above 100th ranking again. We can clearly see a connection between Democracy and poverty reduction. According to the Prosperity Democracy Theory by Robert Petric:
“A country having a better ranking in the democratic index will be having a better ranking in the Poverty reduction index. So, there is a connection in both and we can clearly obtain a result that Democracy is a solution for poverty reduction in a nation.”
The actual democratic states are the one which are also the welfare states. Leaders in Pakistan also promise the well being of the people of the Pakistan but still they are unable to perform the same. So, where is the fault? Why has the Democracy not taken root in Pakistan? Why have the nation’s democratic institutions failed to sustain themselves? How can Pakistan build and strengthen democratic institutions that provide good governance to solve its problems. Is it entirely the fault of Pakistan’s ambitious military generals who have ruled the nation for about half of its 60 years history? Or does it have anything to do with the poor performance of the politicians who have had the opportunity to govern for 30 years and failed to solve most of its major problems, particularly those related to human development and industrialization? There are many answers of these questions. But the explanation that appeals to me most is the one offered by British writer William Dalrymple. He wrote for the Guardian as follows on Pakistan’s 60th Independence Day:
“There is a fundamental flaw in Pakistan’s political system. Democracy has never thrived here, at least in part because landowning remains almost the only social base from which politicians can emerge. In general, the educated middle class-which in India seized control in 1947, emasculating the power of its landowners-is in Pakistan still largely excluded from the political process. As a result, in many of the more backward parts of Pakistan the local feudal zamindar can expect his people to vote for his chosen candidate. Such loyalty can be enforced. Many of the biggest zamindars have private prisons and most have private armies.”
Is this kind of Democracy of the corrupt rich, for the corrupt rich and by the corrupt rich we need in Pakistan? Do we need the democracy of the, for the and by the crooks, criminals, looters, robbers, liars and dishonest politicians due to which 15 crore poor have to live in abject overt with even a single mean for their family, without a roof over their heads, without electricity for 14-16 hours a day, without gas, paraffin, petrol, without proper education for their children, without medical care and living in the highest inflation in Pakistan’s history? Is this kind of democracy is needed in Pakistan where the poor are made to live in misery and poverty, where parents are made to sell their children to buy food, where poor sell their baby organs to feed their families, where millions of male population commit suicide because they have no jobs and cannot provide for their families, where young girls are sold for small amounts to sell their bodies and where the government is making billions of dollars from the Pakistan treasury and depositing them in their foreign bank accounts
But we cannot just blame the Government as the citizens of Pakistan are also an important component of the Democracy in the country. They choose their leaders through voting and the leaders then steer the Government in their own way. So, citizens can also be blamed if the Democracy in Pakistan is not working well. They are the one who are responsible for the selection, so they are the base of the system. They should select people who are more capable and better among all. How they can blame the Government when they are the one who chose them? According to Churchill:
“Citizens are the most important component of Democracy. They need to strengthen themselves up if they want democracy to be strong. They should choose better people among themselves, who will then run the country for them.”
If still we want to save our beloved Motherland then the only option we have, is spiritual Democracy. A group of honest people with credibility can choose some honest leaders. No every thief and looter is allowed to participate in elections. This concept was given by Islam 1400 years ago and that’s how caliphs were selected in Khalafat-e-Rashida. Allama Iqbal also supports this concept, many times in his poetry Iqbal gave complete constitution for spiritual democracy.
If the current crop of elected politicians is really serious about strengthening democracy, it is important for them to pursue a broad good governance agenda in Pakistan with education and training of politicians as the center piece. Unless the politicians find a way to improve governance to solve people’s problems, the nation will be condemned to repeat the past history of democracy’s failure in Pakistan.
On a concluding note, we can say that democracy is one of the best systems of Government for Pakistan, according to many. It is denied by many critics on sound basis but still Pakistan needs its continuation for the betterment of the country. We really need to work hard for the better system implementation of Democracy in Pakistan which is the dire need of this time.
Written by: M. Haseeb Niazi
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