Democracy in Pakistan has had an uprising after witnessing years of aristocratic and dictatorial rule. The country is finally seeing a time where a say of the people is finally being accounted. The concept of having a government by and for the people is something that every citizen yearns for. This might be the reason why 167 countries in the world have implemented democratic ideologies in their governmental systems. Recent studies and surveys have suggested that countries adopting true democratic strategies have made their way quickly towards success and development. Therefore, a country, such as ours, which has been in constant turmoil, deserves a system which provides equality and social justice to its citizens.
The origin of democracy in Pakistan had its foundation at its birth. It was but natural that a country born in the name of Islam to have a system which urges to maintain equality and balance among its populace. The proof of which can be found in Jinnah’s first speech as the governor general of Pakistan in 1948, in which he said,
‘The people of Pakistan deserve to choose and elect a leader of their own choice.’
Jinnah provided a foundation for future democratic rule and system. Although some might argue that Jinnah did not in particular favored democracy but he did support the idea of the people choosing their leader and representation.
But it comes as a bolt from the blue that democracy hasn’t been properly implemented in the country’s governance. Pakistan has never truly had a chance to practice a system where people have had a leader of their choice until recent developments. And era of dictatorial rule and martial law administration has made the country go through years of conflicts amongst its military and civilian authorities. Though, one might suggest that every dictator in the country’s history brought welcoming changes but so have been achieved under civilian rule as well. It was until the end of Musharaf era and constant foreign interventions that thorough democratic elections were held in the country, which have had a successful first tenure. The recent elections of 2013 suggest the same, that democracy has finally made its way into the system of governance of Pakistan.
May 2013, was a month that every Pakistani was desperately and anxiously waiting for. The general elections of 2013 marked the second successive episode of democratic rule in the history of the country. The sheer importance and necessity of these elections can clearly be seen by the level of participation and interest shown by the masses. A brilliant 85 million people casted their votes in these elections and the turnout of both the male (55%) and female (45%) citizens is a speaking truth of the fact that democracy is a welcome change in the country. To see a leader of their choice and the one who they deem worthy of serving and providing them is what the citizens of Pakistan need the most. But the quality and transparency in these elections is something of a question and in fact is not relatable to democracy.
Even after a successful first tenure of the previous government by the Pakistan People’s Party, democracy in the country has had some setbacks and hindrances in its way. The main of all these errors is the level of transparency of the elections. Corruption has always been an obstacle in democracy’s implementation in the country’s governmental system. This is why many a people, choose to negate the concept of democracy for various reasons. It was understood and hoped for the democracy; true and social democracy to provide people with liberty, equality, rule of law, a representative government and basic human rights. So has not been the case. The reasons vary.
Firstly, democracy has had a constant opposition from religious parties and scholars. Democracy, by many, is considered to be a system made and adopted by the west. Therefore, religious extremists and fundamentalists have continued to oppose and act against it. Various parties ask their supporters not to cast their votes and boycott the democratic system on the basis of a religious technicality because democracy according to them is a failed and flawed system.