By Elahi Bakhsh
Democracy is largely a practice which has evolved through a course of time. Its ideals have not been derived from a certain book like that of communism whose principles were mentioned in the communist manifesto of Karl Marx.
So democracy as we know it today is a result of scattered thoughts promoted in, and practices adopted by, countries like US, Britain, France and Germany and so on. Pure democracy, the one practiced in the aforementioned countries, possesses certain characteristics. Few of them, which are relevant in the context of Pakistan, are hereunder.
Pure democracy advocates that religion has got nothing to do with the affairs of the state. Every citizen enjoys the right to practice whichever religion they believe in.
Democracy is typically accompanied by a free market economic system where private parties enjoy least interference from the state in their economies.
People are the sole abode of power when it comes to decision making and policy formulation of the state. No institution, dogma or ideology comes their way when they go about exercising this power other than the ones mentioned in their law books.
Feudalism gives right to a certain group of influential people to govern the affairs of a state. Although this practice is almost extinct now but it presents itself in some pseudo democracies in the form of family politics.
In addition, freedom of press; free and fair periodic elections and safeguard of minorities’ rights also fall within the purview of democracy.
Let’s wrap it up here and go after seeking the nature of the democracy in Pakistan. Pakistan, as opposed to the vanguards of democracy, has got relatively large number of political parties, each with a different manifesto. The political system is largely influenced by these parties along with other hidden forces which pop up their head every now and then in it’s journey through.
Popular sovereignty, freedom of press, free and fair elections already suffer under the influence of hidden forces. Anything left is done away with by the political parties. We all know which party opposes secularism, which parties help roll the feudal wheel. Irony is not that these parties defy, in either way, the democratic principles, but the irony is they judge each other on the basis of ‘grand democratic principles’, the same set of principles which they themselves put on their back one way or the other. They make democracy their sole standard of judging others and this is not helping us anyway.
We need to reset our standards so that we judge each other in a manner that is not hypocritical.