Democracy versus Dictatorship: From Pakistan’s perspective

Although Pakistan was established on the basis of democratic modus operandi of political institutions, but unfortunately 56 years of Pakistan’s independence has got remarkable influence of military administrative body rather than the democratic governmental organization. Coup d’etat of Nawaz Shariff government on October 12, 1999 was dubbed as the fourth episode of democratic turned militarization of the political structure of Pakistan.

From constitutional suspension to judiciary, executive and legislative lobby transaction from democratic setup to military structure has never been so smooth but a tough ride to the organizational institutions. Perhaps it would be more judicious to state that battle zones shifting from barracks to governmental setup have been witnessed each time when ever coups felt penchant towards democratic ruling style. However, there’s always involved a noble cause behind this extensive conspiracy, either there’s corruption involved or financial forgery, from ministerial dictatorial powers to serious threats to social security all the weaken democratic bourgeois institutions contributed at large to de rigueur military dictatorial engagements in political setup.

The question is how do we define democracy and then compare this widely accepted perception towards arrogant aristocratic dictatorial power. Why there’s always an open option fore military to invade or to invite uncertainty without any option to exit? Why the democratic institutional lobby is gripped under weakens corrupted, destabilized and demoralized features enough to invade by the outcastes? Or why democratic provisions are difficult to execute or implement in any environment?

Gore Vidal once stated his views regarding democracy that “Apparently, a democracy is a place where numerous elections are held at great cost without issues and with interchangeable candidates.” Three things in Gore’s perception are thought provoking and acceptably portrayed i.e. elections, issues less favorable environment and candidature criteria. In this regard where ever Human Rights execution is prevailing, principle of equality are adopted, government representative are elected via general consensus, rigging in elections and in electoral body is out of question, this scenario represent the democratic style of government. I must quote an unknown perception in the light of above definition i.e. “Democracy is a government where you can say what you think even if you don’t think.”

Therefore, to establish democracy, participation by common people and accountability from top to bottom are the core principles to cater. To say the least, democracy is a carefully nurtured political institutional lobby rather than a sacrosanct concept. Unfortunately, west had restricted the dictatorial Sega to the religion of Islam. However, Islam is the only religion that advocate justice in the form of democracy and declared sate power as a sacred trust. Qaid-e-‘Azam the Great Leader & founder of Pakistan once stated that; “There are no people in the world who are more democratic even in their religion than the Muslims." From the Islamic traditions the cure of leadership dilemma lies is public consultation, participation and anticipation, absentia from each of the factors will alter not only the credibility of authoritative public representation but create much hindrance in the progress and performances of over all democratically established political institutions.

Democracy is the only terminology that merges political, religious and philosophical perception across the globe. I can confidently admit that every politically conscious thinker will advocate that democracy is a basic right essential to each and every sect of the society.

On the contrary, dictatorial ruling is based on absolute individual sovereign power without any inspection and invasion where the democracy defined by Abraham Lincoln i.e. government of the people, by the people and for the people remain suspended till the winds of revolutionary change restore democracy, or in other words people’s sovereignty. It’s a loss of freedom of expressions, centralization of authoritarian power, paralytic government establishment, surrender of rights & responsibilities where survival of democracy becomes impediment to handle.

Some of the philosophical view points available to reveal the true identity of democracy againstthe un-Islamic dictatorship in Pakistan arise from different perspectives each time country faces. Though it delays the legitimization of dictatorial power in order to shed the hypocrisy involved in coup d’etat of governments, still there’s always present a certain degree of resistance, like; it is wisely said that you cannot make fool all the people all the time. And it’s a fact that leaving behind democratic process will leave the image of Pakistan as an un-civilized nation yet not ready to meet the challenges of the outside world, particularly on democratic front. As also points out the former democratically elected Prime Minister of Pakistan Ms Bhutto; “Walking away from democratisation of nuclear-armed Pakistan could lead to even more horrific results.”

A quick glance over Pakistan’s political perception is definite to analyze its historical performance of democratic dereliction to militarize politics in lieu of rough and frequent transaction from de-centralization to centralized command, both the diversified setups as it has evolved over the past 5 decades?

Losing sagacious leaders like Jinnah, PM Liaquat Ali Khan and Z.A. Bhutto created a never ending vacuum to political set up of Pakistan as dichotomy rises between democracy and dictatorship involving an immense pressure from rival neighboring countries, religious zealots and militant mafia both from inland and abroad.

The turbulent history of democracy vis-à-vis dictatorship persistence started way back to 1950s when General (Late field Marshal) Ayub Khan Stages a coup in 1958. In his militarized rule he contributed new constitution advocated to “Basic Democracy” at the local level with the intention of switching over to civilian system. Though economy prospered during his 10 year tenure but the internal political structure weakened seriously by the extensive corruption and frequent institutional crisis.

In 1969 after extensive agitation of masses Ayub fell from power, then comes General Agha Muhammad Yehya Khan’s era, the then commander-in-chief of the army. Parliamentary set up restored along with the national elections of December 1970 under silhouettes of second military regime. However, amid the depressing civil war resulting bloody episode of Bangladesh formerly East Pakistan’s independence, Yahya’s military power came to an end.

Under the clouds of open criticism, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto took power as a CMLA. The credit of introducing 1973 constitution goes to him. Besides that he was an all rounder in political arena of Pakistan. His mandate of Roti, Kapra aur makan (Food, clothing & shelter) makes him the most admirable persona grata in the history of Pakistani politics. In his tenure certain measures were adopted to curtail the military sovereignty over the civilian government. However, like all the regimes, Bhutto’s political career did not enjoy the fruits of democracy for so long. Wide spread riots, severe criticism from opposition and deteriorating law and order situation gave green signal to General Mohammed Zia-ul-Haq to stage a coup d’etat Bhutto on July 5, 1977 and recalled the history of martial law third time.

Zia-ul-Haq ruled over Pakistan for 11 Years as CMLA with suspended constitution and Islamic ideology. The political murder of Bhutto was conducted during his regime. Illegitimacy is the much annoyed aspect of military rulers and of course the major obstacle to the smooth execution of dictatorial powers that introduced the injection of referendum. Therefore, 1984’s referendum was conducted to eradicate the stumbling blocks in order to achieve velvety drive of administrative machinery or to give coup de grace to legitimize power.

The one Way Street of General Zia’s tenure with the penetration of infamous 8th amendment in 1973 constitution, later lifting of martial law in 1985 was marked as added advantage of rulers’ absolute power to dismiss government. One of the distinguish personality carved out by his dictatorial regime was PM Mohammed Khan Junejo, who unsuccessfully tried to convert military control in to democratic rule however, his idea bring an end to National Assembly in May 1988.

However, General Zia’s death in C-130 crash revives much awaited democracy and Ms. Benazir Bhutto becomes new Prime Minister of Pakistan.

On October 12, 1999 while exercising military invasions over political environment on regularity basis country was once again dragged under the fourth military ruling favored by plane conspiracy. The toppled government of Nawaz Shariff from lost opportunity of contesting elections to imprisonment and then to exile forced General Musharaff to restore democracy. Second time in the history of Pakistan referendum was held and won by General Musharaff.

Later under severe pressure of western super powers in particular and international media in general, elections were held in 2002. Although both the democratic leaders were deprived of contest elections on allegation of corruptions but outcome was contradictory.

After brief analysis of military influence over democratic set up, what is quite definite to understand is why there’s always certain elements involve inviting or invading political institutions by the responsible armed forces. Or why democratic political institutions are unable to handle their internal menace or what are the reasons behind their failure? Or will it be judicious to put entire blame over ill handled democratic provisions? Why military personnel’s own hysteric attitude towards the wealth of power cannot be question, after all channels from barracks to drawing room contains satisfactory conclusions. Why back to back dictators are often criticized over the question of disintegration and hypocrisy?

Speaking from political institutional point of view, Democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government because of the constant people’s pressure resolving or improving state machinery. I do agree that massive corruption, nepotism, dichotomy towards central and provincial finances, legislative and executioner’s powers, low level accountability, unemployment, foreign strategic pressure, weaker administrative lobby, financial loot and plunder, excessive violation of human rights provisions, dilapidated social environment makes over all democratic scenario instable & insecure by hanging future of democratic establishment in jeopardy.

Political instability does not portray at all that the channels of military invasion is the only option left out to resolve the matters absolutely rely on political sphere. There’s always a room of improvement in the form of revolution via election, as choosing peoples representatives by free and fair elections is the essence of democracy. I strongly believe that revolution by ballot not by bullet is the best accountable approach involving common man’s perception can preserve the political ideology. Plus the beauty of democratic environment always involved or engaged a great deal of criticism from the opposition benches having vigilant eye over states affairs, and that enjoy complete absentia under dictatorial power.

Like the way politicians, political leaders, ministers, judges and other executive personals no matter how experienced and rhetoric they are cannot join military band wagon once they entered in the politics. Then why democracy in Pakistan had experienced a massive military’s irretrievable engagement. One may agree that a decorous military front man not necessarily can be a good leader or an astute leader cannot win the battle zone other than diplomatic front. Then why there’s a frequent merger of two diverse classes, when both bear a great burden of responsibility involving national security and consensus.

Whatever may the reasons of the state’s failure, it is unethical, unjustified and against the rule of law when it comes to military’s involvement in politics. What they should act to be unbiased is strengthening armed forces in the line of duty and makes all the precautionary arrangements to be less influenced over the political institutions. As suspending constitution, hindering judicial consistency, involving huge finances in referendums and elections (often labeled as rigged)each time to legitimize one man rule is not al all feasible for a country combating with the evils of financial as well as social victimization.

It is a matter of a great concern that neither dictatorship nor democratic institution ever employed expeditious accountability cap-a-pie that could assure justice to all the sects of the under developed society. However, new accountability institutions with feasible performances and expeditious services are established each time new government comes in to horizon. But unfortunately the end results contain severe criticism involving only lower cadre or less influential people. That shows the highest degree of corruption and nepotism engaged at each level of accountability dealing with the affluent class. As long as the accountability process enjoy back, fighting with financial, social and political victimization will remain the prime concerns of state plenipotentiaries.

Parliamentary democracy is must rather unexpected dictatorial involvement via coup d’etat and favorable constitutional provisions that adhere power and position in perpetum. Therefore, legally and peacefully decentralization, rehabilitant, restructuring and restoration of democracy is must for the sake of Pakistan’s social & political integrity.

In my opinion, to bring stability in the political hugger mugger like situation does not mean to bring army in to power. Instead of strengthening political administrative lobby, applying quid pro quo approach over the state affairs can make national security & integrity more fragile and that Pakistan cannot afford. In order to cure political evils the role of army should be restricted to provide alarming information via suggestions.

Dictators should learn their lessons from historical civil disobedience and change their dictatorial perception, that ultimate power is the power dedicated by the people to their representatives that make political leaders more accountable. Therefore, power remains unexcitable if its existence diversifies from through proper channel. On the other hand, democracy without morality is impossible; therefore it is an absolute responsibility of the democratic leadership to take all the necessary measures that could save our country from dictatorial regimes.

No matter how progressive military establishment conceive their achievable ideas, democracy remain the widely acceptable perception where fundamental rights, freedom of expression, preservation of astute political ideology, participation of common people on equality basis, free society but according to Islamic code of conducts, legal electoral system, liberty of legislature, executive and judicial lobby cannot be ignored rather expanded.