|Islamic Republic of Pakistan|
اسلامی جمہوریۂ پاکستان
Motto: Unity, Discipline, Faith
Anthem: Qaumī Tarāna
Area controlled by Pakistan in dark red; claimed and disputed but uncontrolled territory marked in light red
|Official languages||Urdu (National)|
|Recognised regional languages||Balochi, Pashto, Punjabi, Saraiki, Sindhi|
|Mamnoon Hussain (PML N)|
• Prime Minister
|Shahid Khaqan Abbasi (PML N)|
• Chief Justice
|Nasir ul Mulk|
• Chair of Senate
|Raza Rabani (PPP)|
• House Speaker
|Ayaz Sadiq (PML-N)|
• Upper house
• Lower house
• Pakistan Declaration
|28 January 1933|
• Pakistan Resolution
|23 March 1940|
|from the United Kingdom|
|14 August 1947|
• Islamic Republic
|23 March 1956|
|796,095 km2 (307,374 sq mi) (36th)|
• Water (%)
• 2014 estimate
• 1998 census
|214.3/km2 (555.0/sq mi) (55th)|
|GDP (PPP)||2011 estimate|
• Per capita
|GDP (nominal)||2011 estimate|
• Per capita
|HDI (2011)|| 0.504|
low · 145th
|Currency||Pakistani Rupee (Rs.) (PKR)|
• Summer (DST)
|Drives on the||left|
|ISO 3166 code||PK|
Pakistan is a country in southern Asia. It is next to India, Iran, Afghanistan, and China. It is officially called the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. It has a long coastline along the Arabian Sea in the south. Pakistan has the fifth largest population (207.77 million) in the world. Pakistan has a total land area of 880,940 km2 (340,130 sq mi) (including the Pakistani-administered territories of Azad Kashmir and Gilgit Baltistan). This makes Pakistan the 34th largest country in the world. Pakistan has the seventh largest army in the world. The capital of Pakistan is Islamabad. Before 1960, it was Karachi, which is now the country's largest city.
The name Pākistān means Land of the Pure in Persian and Urdu.
Name of Pakistan[change | change source]
The name Pakistan (English pronunciation: ( listen) or ( listen); Urdu: پاکستان [paːkɪˈst̪aːn]) means Land of (the) Spiritually Pure in both Urdu and Persian languages. Many South-central Asian states and regions end with the element -stan, such as Afghanistan,PAKISTAN,Baluchistan,Kurdistan, and Turkistan. This -stan is formed from the Iranian root *STA "to stand, stay," and means "place (where one stays), home, country". Iranian peoples have been the principal inhabitants of the various geographical region of the Ancient Persian Empires now occupied by the states for over a thousand years. The names are compounds of -stan and the name of the peoples living there. Pakistan is a bit of an exception; its name was coined on the 28th January 1933 as Pakstan by Choudhary Rahmat Ali, a Pakistan Movement activist, who published it in his paper Now or Never. by using the suffix -istan from Baluchistan preceded by the initial letters of Punjab, Afghania, Kashmir and Sindh. The name is actually an acronym that stands for the "thirty million Muslim brethren who lived in PAKSTAN—by which we mean the Five Northern units of India viz: Punjab, (Afghan Province), Kashmir, Sind, and Baluchistan". The letter i was incorporated to ease pronunciation and forms the linguistically correct and meaningful name. Most notably interestingly, a word almost identical in form, etymology, and meaning to the Iranian suffix -stan is found in Polish, which has a word stan meaning "state" (in the senses of both polity and condition). It can be found in the example of a Polish name for the "United States of America," Stany Zjednoczone Ameryki (literally "States United of America").
Government and politics[change | change source]
Main articles: Government of Pakistan and Politics of Pakistan
Pakistan has a federal parliamentary system. The head of state is an indirectly-elected President. The president is also the Commander in Chief of the Joint Armed Forces. The head of government is the Prime Minister, who is also indirectly elected.
The President's appointment and term are constitutionally independent of the Prime Minister’s term. The Electoral college of the country, (composed of the Senate, the National Assembly, and the four Provincial Assemblies) chooses a leadership representing the President of Pakistan for a five-year term. The Prime Minister is usually the leader of the largest party in the National Assembly and is assisted by a cabinet of ministers drawn from both chambers of the federal legislature.
Politics[change | change source]
Pakistan is officially a federal republic, but during a long period in its history it changed to a democratic state and a military dictatorship. Military dictators include Ayub Khan in the 1960s, General Zia-ul-Haq in the 1980s.
Pakistan's two largest political parties are the Pakistan People's Party and the government party Muslim League (Pakistan), which have military support. The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf has also gained prominence in the past years.
On 27 December 2007, the leader of the Pakistan Peoples Party, Benazir Bhutto, was assassinated. The reason is yet to be determined.
Administrative divisions[change | change source]
Main articles: Administrative units of Pakistan and Districts of Pakistan
Pakistan is made up of four provinces, two territories and two special areas. Both special areas are in Kashmir. The provinces and territories were divided into 26 divisions with now 147 districts directly divided from the provinces. Each district is divided into several tehsils and each tehsil is divided into several union councils. There are around 596 tehsils and over 6,000 union councils in Pakistan.
- Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (formerly NWFP)
Among the four provinces, Punjab has the most people but Balochistan is the largest province by area. (Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa also have Provincially Administered Tribal Areas (PATA) which are going to be regular districts.)
- Islamabad Capital Territory
- Federally Administered Tribal Areas
Administrative Areas (Pakistan-administered Kashmir)
- Azad Kashmir
- Gilgit Baltistan
India, Pakistan and China separately control parts of the Kashmir region. India and Pakistan's parts are divided by a Line of Control. The Pakistan–China border is internationally recognised. Trade is common between the 2 countries.
National symbols[change | change source]
Main article: National symbols of Pakistan
Economy[change | change source]
Main article: Economy of Pakistan
Pakistan has a semi-industrialized economy. The growth poles of the Pakistani economy are situated along the Indus River. Diversified economies of Karachi and Punjab's urban centres, coexist with less developed areas in other parts of the country. Despite being a very poor country in 1947, Pakistan's economic growth rate has been better than the global average during the subsequent four decades, but imprudent policies led to a slowdown in the late 1990s.
Recently, wide-ranging economic reforms have resulted in a stronger economic outlook and accelerated growth especially in the manufacturing and financial services sectors. Since the 1990s, there has been great improvement in the foreign exchange market position and rapid growth in hard currency reserves.
The 2005 estimate of foreign debt was close to US$40 billion. However, this decreased with help from the International Monetary Fund and significant debt-relief from the United States. Pakistan's gross domestic product, as measured by purchasing power parity, is estimated to be $475.4 billion while its per capita income stands at $2,942. The poverty rate in Pakistan is estimated to be between 23% and 28%.
History[change | change source]
Pakistan became Independent in 1946 from the Indian empire of British Raj. The first people in Ancient Pakistan lived 9000 years ago. These people were the ones who made up the Indus Valley Civilization, which is one of the oldest civilizations on Earth. After that, the Vedic period came. This also included parts of north-western Republic of India. Until 1971, Pakistan also included an area in the North-east India region. This is now called Bangladesh. It lost that area after a war with the Indian Army and the joint militant group of Indo-Bangladeshi alliance of Mitro Bahini of West Bengal. During recent times Pakistan has been in the centre of world politics. This is first because of its support to guerillas in Afghanistan, following Sovietinvasion 1979, and later during the 1990s because of its cooperation with and support for the Talibanregime in Afghanistan. However, since 2000 Pakistan has basically supported the West in their war against fundamentalist terrorism, including the removal of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan.
Pakistan is a member of the Commonwealth. However, after the war in East Pakistan the country was excluded (between 1972-1989). It was also a member between 1999 and 2007, it was excluded in 2007 for a time but again became a member in 2008.
Geography and climate[change | change source]
Main article: Geography of Pakistan
There are many earthquakes in the area. The earthquake in 2005 with its earthquake center in Kashmir is the strongest so far. Over 100,000 people were killed or wounded on October 8, 2005.
Pakistan covers 880,940 km2 (340,130 sq mi), approximately equalling the combined land areas of France and the United Kingdom. Its eastern regions are located on the Indian plate and the western and northern regions on the Iranian plateau and Eurasian landplate. Apart from the 1,046 km (650 mi) Arabian Sea coastline, Pakistan's land borders total 6,774 km (4,209 mi) — 2,430 km (1,510 mi) with Afghanistan to the northwest, 523 km (325 mi) with China to the northeast, 2,912 km (1,809 mi) with India to the south and east, and 909 km (565 mi) with Iran to the southwest.
The northern and western highlands of Pakistan contain the towering Karakoram and Pamir mountain ranges, which incorporate some of the world's highest peaks, including K2 8,611 m (28,251 ft) and Nanga Parbat 8,126 m (26,660 ft). The Balochistan Plateau lies to the west, and the Thar Desert and an expanse of alluvial plains, the Punjab and Sindh, lie to the east. The 1,609 km (1,000 mi) Indus River and its tributaries flow through the country from the disputed territory of Occupied Kashmir to the Arabian Sea.
Pakistan has four seasons: a cool, dry winter from December through February; a hot, dry spring from March through May; the summer rainy season, or southwest monsoon period, from June through September; and the retreating monsoon period of October and November. The beginning and length of these seasons vary somewhat according to location. Rainfall can vary radically from year to year, and successive patterns of flooding and drought are also not uncommon.
People[change | change source]
Languages[change | change source]
Main article: Languages of Pakistan
Urdu is replacing English as the national language of the country. English is still spoken among the Pakistani elite and in most government ministries. Many people also speak Saraiki, Punjabi, Hindko, Pashto, Sindhi , Balochi, Brahui and Khowar.
Shina is also one of the regional languages of Pakistan. It is spoken in Gilgit-Baltistan.
Religion[change | change source]
Main article: Islam in Pakistan
Pakistan is a muslim country which means the religion is Islam
Most (97%) of the people are Muslim. Most of the Muslims in Pakistan are Sunni Muslims (>75%) and some are Shia Muslims (20%). However a few minority groups exist. Pakistan also has some Christian, Hindu, Sikh, Zoroastrians and animist minority groups in the northern parts of the country.
After the separation from British India, Hinduism had much less importance in the newly created state of Pakistan, but has played an important role in its culture and politics as well as the history of its regions. In fact, Pakistan has the 5th largest population of Hindus, after Sri Lanka.
The word Hindu comes from the Sindhu (Indus River) of Pakistan. The Sindhu is one of the holy rivers of Hinduism. Thus, in many ways, the land which is today's heavily Muslim Pakistan has played an important part in the origin of Hinduism. There are about 3 million Hindus living in Pakistan.
Poverty[change | change source]
Poverty in Pakistan is a growing concern. Although the middle-class has grown in Pakistan, nearly one-quarter of the population is classified poor as of October 2006.
Sports[change | change source]
For more details, see Pakistan at the Olympics, Pakistan national field hockey team, and Pakistan national football team
The national sport of Pakistan is field hockey, although cricket is the most popular game across the country. The national cricket team has won the Cricket World Cup once (in 1992), were runners-up once (in 1999), and co-hosted the games twice (in 1987 and 1996). Pakistan were runners-up in the inaugural 2007 ICC World Twenty20 held in South Africa and were the champions at the 2009 ICC World Twenty20 held in England. The team also won two Asia Cups in 2000 and 2012. Lately however, Pakistani cricket has suffered heavily due to teams refusing to tour Pakistan after militants attacked the touring Sri Lankan team in March 2009, after which no international cricket was played until May 2015, when the Zimbabwean team agreed to tour.
In addition to sports like field hockey, cricket, squash rackets, football and others, Pakistanis are also very keen on equestrianism of various types,and equestrian sports such as Polo and the traditional Tent pegging are played by many. Other traditional rural sports include two types of Wrestling, Kabbadi and a martial art called Gatka. Pakistan won ICC Champions trophy against India in 2017.
Related pages[change | change source]
References[change | change source]
“Dēmokratia”, now known to the world as “Democracy” is a form of government under which the power to alter the laws and structures of government lies, ultimately, with the citizenry. Democracy is the most essential and fundamental element for managing the affairs of society systematically. In a broader sense democracy encompasses the leading features; fair and free election process, supremacy of the constitution, the rule of law, and freedom for the people. In other words democratic state must practice the principles of equal citizenship irrespective of religion, caste, ethnicity and regional background. It must also ensure equality of opportunity to all for advancement in social, political and economic domains and guarantee security of life and property to its citizens.
It is fact that democracy is the major constituent for social, political and economic development. It is considered as the backbone of the system, without which an effective running of system is impossible. The crucial importance of democracy can be observed by the experience of East Asian countries. Between 1965 and 1990, several countries of this region registered the highest growth rate and proved it with high living standards. The most important factors behind this economic miracle are good governance.
Democracy today appears to be the most popular choice when it comes to choosing a form of government, it brings with it many complications that would be absent in a dictatorship. Making bold decisions for long term prosposerity, executing controversial decisions and making bitter choices for the common good can be very complicated processes in a democratic form of government.
Democracy presupposes an understanding of issues. The sine qua non for a Western-style democratic system is education, which means that the people must be educated to a level to understand the issues so that they can make a meaningful choice. Unfortunately, literacy rate in Pakistan is a mere fraction, even the most optimistic estimates believe it to be less than 50 percent. An illiterate person is like an aimless wanderer, who lacks a clear vision, consequently fells an easy prey to the caste related vote canvassing. Moreover, Pakistani society is divided along the fissures and faults of caste and sects that has retarded it to act like a cohesive unit and concentrate only on issues. Under such circumstances, caste, sect and creed sentiments are exploited by the unscrupulous politicians.
Democracy is one of the universal and indivisible core values and principles of the United Nations. It is based on the freely expressed will of people and closely linked to the rule of law and exercise of human rights and fundamental freedoms. Democratic governance feeds into economic and social policies that are responsive to people’s needs and aspirations, that aim at eradicating poverty and expanding the choices that people have in their lives, and that respect the needs of future generations. In essence, therefore, democratic governance is the process of creating and sustaining an environment for inclusive and responsive political processes and settlements.
It is also important to note that the United Nations does not advocate for a specific model of government, but promotes democratic governance as a set of values and principles that should be followed for greater participation, equality, security and human development.
The Quaid believed in democracy, the following are a excerpts from his speeches on democracy:
Democracy is in the blood of Muslamans who look upon complete equality of man. I give you an example. Very often when I go to a mosque, my chauffeur stands side by side with me. Muslamans believe in fraternity, equality and liberty.
Dec 14, 1946, Quaid-e-Azam said at Kingsway Hall, London.
There are no people in the world who are more democratic even in their religion than the Muslamans.
The democratic system derives its strength from people. As former American President, Abraham Lincoln said.
“Democracy is Government of the people, by the people, for the people.”
Anna Garlin Spencer is of the opinion.
"The essence of democracy is its assurance that every human being should so respect himself and should be so respected in his own personality that he should have opportunity equal to that of every other human being to show what he was meant to become."
History has always provided evidence for the fact that ideas and values come before actions. Democracy has its origins in Ancient Greece. However other cultures have significantly contributed to the evolution of democracy such as Ancient Rome, Europe, and North America. The motherland of modern democracy, i.e. England is a manifestation of this principle. In the changing times of 16 and 17th centuries, during the age of discovery and at the dawn of industrial revolution, these were the ideas of Thomas Hobbes, John Locke and Jeans Jacques Rousseau which paved the way for democracy. These were their political ideas in the social contract, treatises on government and other such political classics which got acceptance among masses and intellectual elite and became a part of political socialization and ultimately political culture. Coupled with these ideas were the socio-economic changes going on in Europe particularly, England. With the advent of Industrial revolution emerged a new mercantile class which had wealth but not prestige and political power. The ideas of democracy, rule of law and adult franchise went to their favor so armed with the weapon of these ideas, this new class succeeded in building up a new political culture under which a new political order was established.
Political harmony and democratic evolution is facilitated primarily by political parties and leaders. These are important instruments of interest articulation and aggregation and serve as vehicles of political mobilization. In Pakistan, political parties have traditionally been weak and unable to perform their main function in an effective and meaningful manner. The role of the political parties has suffered due to, inter alia, periodic restrictions on political activities under military rule, infrequent elections, weak organizational structure and poor discipline among the members, absence of attractive socio-economic programs, and a paucity of financial resources. Political parties also suffer from factionalism based on personality, region and ideology. The Muslim League that led the independence movement failed to transform itself from a national movement to a national party. It suffered from organizational incoherence, ideological confusion and a crisis of leadership. The parties that emerged in the post-independence period could not present a better alternative. They suffered from the weaknesses that ailed the Muslim League. Consequently, the political parties could not work for political consensus building and political stability and continuity. Most Pakistani political parties lack resources and trained human-power to undertake dispassionate and scientific study of the socio-political and economic problems. The emphasis is on rhetoric and sloganeering which may be useful for mobilization purposes but it cannot be a substitute to serious, scientific and analytical study of the societal problems. The level of debate in the two houses of the parliament and provincial assemblies is low and these elected bodies often face the shortage of quorum which shows the non-seriousness of the political parties and their members in the elected houses in dealing with the national issues and problems. Quite often the ministers and parliamentary secretaries are not available in the house to respond to the issues raised by the members.
When the leadership of a country has all the power, which originally should have been with the institutions, the civil society is prone to become weak. The Pakistani society could not even properly voice their rights until recently, let alone struggling for democracy due to subjugation. Last but not least, the current stream of extremism and terrorism has brought forth a new ideology. These extremist elements equally manipulate the government and the common people. Their own version of Islam has become a means of playing with the sentiments of the already deprived masses. Hence, the bearers of this new ideology of governance consider democracy non Islamic and thus completely useless for an Islamic State. The prevailing conditions of the country and the demand for implementation of Sharia (their own version), is a testimony to this ideological belief. For these elements, the concept of democracy is western thus against Islam.
Moreover, this new ideological approach is also the most immediate threat to democracy in Pakistan today. In the war against terrorism, the realization of the fact that it is also a ‘ a ‘war of two ideologies’ but not necessarily a clash of civilizations is essential for preventing the country from another dead end.
Islam as we know is a complete code of life. But in the political sphere the decision for choosing the form of government has been left for the people, provided that the described requirements for vicegerency are met and the fact that sovereignty lies with Allah alone. As our constitution clearly states Pakistan as an Islamic Republic, there should be no misunderstanding about the governmental form.
Islam speaks of sovereignty of Allah, while western democracy advocates that sovereignty belongs to people. This means that democracy has been accepted within the limits of Islam so that in the name of democracy Islamic principles cannot be violated. Islamic Scholars and Islamic Politicians have come to accept the word democracy and what it means within these limits. The fear of some people here that democracy makes the people a source of power and even legislation although in Islam, besides Allah, no one has the right to make laws. Allah is our Creator, our Lord and he knows well that what is good and what is bad for us and Mohammad as its Prophet and Islam as its Religion. Such a people would not be expected to pass a legislation that contradicts Islam and its incontestable principles (Sharia) and conclusive rules.
Hence, in essence and soul democracy is not un-Islamic. There is compatibility between Islamic concept of government and democracy but it requires a well executed procedure of its incorporation in the constitution or making Pakistan a true Islamic democracy.
The people generally have also an important role to play in democracy—that of intelligent critics and no democratic govern¬ment worth the name can afford to ignore or bypass public criticism. If it were to commit, his folly, it would soon become unpopular loss it hold on the people and hence its majority in the legislature. Thus the public shares the role of the opposition whenever occasion demands it.
Public opinion may be passive and false or active and real. It is claimed in theory that all governments are ultimately based on the opinion or sanction of the governed. But we find that in practice the people's rights are often trodden down and tyranny and oppression are allowed to continue. The government does it not because the people want it to do so but because they are too idle, too uneducated and too disunited or timid to oppose the govern¬ment. Such public opinion is passive and false and not an active verdict. But when we find people alert, intelligent and determined to let the government know their will, when they want to exercise actively their voice in the management of their country, we have an instance of true or active public opinion.
True public opinion is formed by and expressed through the press, the platform, political parties and educational institutions. These have sacred duties to perform, duties on which depends the ultimate good of the entire community. The press today wields a tremendous influence, so it should support the causes and move¬ments and condemn the wrong ones and thus teach people to form correct opinion. A free and fair press ventilates the grievances of the public. Thus a healthy relationship develops between the people and the government throughout an unbiased press. Political parties also help to create and regulate opinions. No less important part is played by the educational Institutions which train the minds of the young people who will be the citizens of tomorrow. It has been said that modern Germany and China have been made by their universities.
It is necessary that the young and the growing minds should imbibe the spirit of fellow-feeling, the spirit of tolerance, the habit of compromise, and show due regard for the feelings and opinion of others without which a democratic society cannot function, let alone succeed. When there is true awakening of the people, we shall have the real and conscious public opinion. And justice will reign on earth and truly will the voice of the people be the voice of God.
Democracy is not only a form of government it is a philosophy which encompasses all aspects of rights and freedom. If we are to survive as a nation, we must allow it to grow or it will be hard to escape another catastrophe either internal or external.
In Pakistan, the need for establishing a true democracy is as old as the country itself. Democracy is one of the most fabulous principles of the modern political system. It is the culmination of freedom and progress in advanced countries. In Pakistan, however, the already difficult situation has been aggravated by constant failures which never let democracy survive. The legacies of colonialism and autocratic mindset of the leadership erected invisible barriers for the democratic process. The positive change is still slow, but a bleak past or murky present in no way means a foredoomed future as well. However, colossal efforts at every level are required for democracy to take root and relieve us of our ever increasing catastrophes.
Democracy is not only a form of government it is a philosophy which encompasses all aspects of rights and freedom. If we are to survive as a nation, we must allow it to grow or it will be hard to escape another catastrophe either internal or external.
Pakistan, like India, adopted the Government of India Act, 1935 as the Interim Constitution, 1947 to meet the immediate requirements of an independent state. It provided parliamentary form of government, although the Governor General enjoyed special powers and the federal government exercised some overriding powers over provinces. Pakistan's early rulers did not pay special attention to democratization other political system because their major concern was how to ensure the survival of the state in view of internal and external challenges. The fear of the collapse of the state encouraged authoritarian style of governance.
Pakistan had faced serious administrative and management problems during the partition process. These problems were the division of civil and military assets of the British government between India and Pakistan, communal riots, the migration of people to and from Pakistan, and the troubled relations with India, including the first war on Kashmir, 1947-1948. In this critical situation when Pakistan was facing initial administrative and humanitarian difficulties, Mohammad Ali Jinnah, the father of the nation, died on September 11, 1948, thirteen months after the establishment of Pakistan. The separation of Quaid within a short span of time undermined the already weak political institutions and fragmented the political setup. Most of the post-Jinnah political leaders had no nationwide fame and appeal to reorganize the massive crowd again as a result regional politics within the state flourished. This critical situation, made it difficult for the political parties and leaders to pursue a coherent approach and gather under one leadership. They were unable to develop consensus on single point.
Exploring the last 63 years of Pakistan, democracy is taken as a comic relief between military regimes. Assassination of Liaquat Ali Khan, the first elected Prime Minister, was in fact the demise of democracy in Pakistan. Since then, the balance of power tilted in the favor of the military. Though Liaquat Ali Khan laid the foundation of the constitution by introducing objective resolution but several years later constitution of Pakistan was introduced (March 23, 1956) which even could not get popular support of all major parties, leaders and regions. By the time the constitution was introduced a strong tradition of violation started, the political parties were divided and the assembly was unable to assert its primacy. In this situation power was shifted to the Governor General/President Iskander Mirza, who had military background. Iskander Mirza took support of top bureaucracy and the military. This contributed to the rise of the bureaucratic-military elites in Pakistani politics which further suppressed future of democracy.
Democracy was not evolved out of the Pakistani culture; rather it was imposed by our colonial masters so there was a lack of democratic culture and its associated values. Pakistani society consisted of tribal or feudal landscape. Pakistan even when created had a fair share of the feudal ruling class in the Muslim League who represented a culture of suppression and personal gains. These landlords and feudal cum politicians hijacked the political system. Tribalism or feudalism, as a political system, has certain values associated with it which include authoritarianism instead of mass level participation, kinship instead of merit, patronage instead of rule of law due to which our military and political elite could not embrace the idea of democracy wholeheartedly and that is why, there was no strong resistance whenever the military toppled the elected government. The first Martial Law was imposed by Ayub Khan in 1958 and lasted till 1969. He abrogated the constitution of 1956. He also introduced presidential system with indirect elections. In April 1969, General Yahya imposed second Martial Law and lasted till 1971. He had abrogated the constitution of 1962, banned all political activities and dissolved National and Provincial assemblies. Again Martial Law intervened in 1977 and the popular leader elected by the common people through dubious elections was hanged. Zia's Martial regime was supposed to be the shortest one but it turned out to be the longest in the history of Pakistan. Zia did not abrogate the constitution of 1973 but suspended. He also passed his famous 8th amendment to restrict the power of head of government through article 58 2(b) and provided significant powers to the president who could dissolve National Assembly whenever he think that need has arisen. In 1999, again military intervened in political setup led by General Musharraf. The Army was yet again in power promising of smooth transfer of power to grass root level within three years.
Consequently, the list of gross failures kept mounting and even after realizing the underlying causes, they weren’t addressed. Of the major causes of failure of democracy in Pakistan, the substantial ones are related to those in authority i.e., the leadership, army and bureaucracy.
Firstly, the failure to sustain democracy is the over developed state structure. The monopolization and centralization of power, decision making structure, hegemonic ideals vis-à-vis civil society and also a need to control them terribly weakened the de facto government institutions and in turn the social and economic structure as well. Secondly, a clash between main organs of government such as judiciary and executive lead never gave democracy a fair chance. Personalization of rule has been in vogue. This trend by the executive to influence all and sundry made. Pakistan an international study case of a failing democratic state
In addition to this the military rulers strengthened the bureaucracy for their own rule. Securing a permanent role in the establishment, the bureaucrats preferred to compromise with the feudal system as well. The circulation of power in a handful of families made the structure hollow.
Similarly, as cited earlier the authority at local level accumulated in the hands of feudal cum politicians who had the public vote bank with them. The military rulers were thought to curb them in the beginning but instead of nipping them in the bud they also compromised with them to prolong their rule. In such circumstances, even universal suffrage could not be effective and non-political powers began to play a greater role.
Likewise, the weak institution of political system, from the parliament- which became a proxy of dictators- to the regional political parties which had hereditary and non democratic leaders is another cause. These political representatives had no idea of political socialization and no organized quarters of leadership, who could establish a democratic culture.
Sadly, the political psyche of the people is also very negative due to low level of political awareness and socialization. And this trend allowed the hegemonic forces to keep media, educational institutions, peers and public forums from incorporating a political consciousness into the people. The masses were even not able to resist the Martial Laws, and the civil society always succumbed to the military rule.
Another important cause has always been the constitutional crisis and absence of rule of law apparatus. There has always been a great demand for incorporating Islamic principles in the constitution or implementing them (as implied by the ’73 const.) as Pakistan is an Islamic state. Also the several amendments in the constitution concentrated power in the President, which was against the democratic soul. There is still the need for intact constitution.
Next, the all powerful bureaucracy and feudal politicians should be stripped of their unwarranted authority. It has been a slow evil which has weakened the country like nothing else. They are elected for serving people not controlling them. The criteria of merit; the right of freedom and equal progress for common people has become a joke due to such an autocratic setup.
The political system which we have in Pakistan is rather something else in the garb of democracy. Where one needs at least ten to twenty million rupees to contest a National Assembly election and around half of that for a seat of provincial assembly; where the legislature has become a club of the elite is rather actually plutocracy, i.e. a government of a rich few. Middle class, having understood that the doors of the political system are closed for them, get disenchanted and ultimately get alienated from the system; and here lies a basic reason for the lack of development of democratic values and culture in Pakistan.
It is fact that democratic governments in Pakistan have been witnessed of corruption, mal-administration, and nepotism. The people reluctantly visit public institutions because they know that without any favor or bribe it is very difficult to get any work done from the public officers. Moreover, due to malpractices of the public official and misappropriation of public fund the infrastructure of public institutions has been cracked and a situation like chaos is prevailing all over the country.
In 1990 the government of PPP was dissolved due to corruption charges set against Benazir Bhutto by the President of that time. The next government of Nawaz sharif was also dismissed in 1993 by Ghulam Ishaq khan on plea of corruption and nepotism. Again elections were held in 1993 and Benazir became PM but this government was also dissolved on corruption charges in 1996.
Democracy and participatory governance are popular political notions in today’s world. Fair and free elections are the key pre-requisite of democracy. However, democracy lacks substance unless the electoral process is coupled with the supremacy of the constitution, the rule of law, and civil and political rights and freedoms for the people. The state must practice the principle of equal citizenship irrespective of religion, caste, ethnicity and regional background. It must also ensure equality of opportunity to all for advancement in social, economic and political domains and guarantee security of life and property of its citizens.
The failure to institutionalize participatory governance has caused much alienation at the popular level. A good number of people feel that they are irrelevant to power management at the federal and provincial levels. The rulers are so engrossed in their power game that they are not bothered about the interest and welfare of the common people. Such a perception of low political efficacy is reflected in the declining voting percentage in the general elections. A good number of voters maintain that their vote does not matter much in the selection of the rulers. Invariably they express negative views about the rulers as well as those opposing them. Despite all this, the people have not given up on democracy. While talking about their ‘helplessness’ with reference to changing the rulers, they continue to subscribe to the norms of democracy and participatory governance and emphasize the accountability of the rulers. They are therefore vulnerable to mobilization for realization of these norms and values. The political system of Pakistan is characterized by intermittent breakdown of constitution and political order, weak and non-viable political institutions and processes, rapid expansion of the role of the military bureaucratic elite, military rule and military dominated civilian governments, and narrow-based power management.
Democracy does not guarantee equality of conditions - it only guarantees equality of opportunity—Irving Kristol
History is witness to the fact that Pakistan has lost territory while under direct military rule. The dictators’ hawkish attitude has fanned various separatist movements across the country. Absence of Democracy is a significant reason for nurturing terrorism in a country. A democratic government is supposed to represent the people and provide political means to voice grievances, hence essentially providing a sphere where terrorism has no place. Democracy is necessary to peace and undermining the forces of terrorism—Benazir Bhutto. For this reason, in theory, there 'cannot' be an aggrieved group that is not adequately represented; but absence of democracy and areas outside the realm of democratic setup in Pakistan has proved conducive to terrorism.
The political leaders lack a clear vision and they never had the capacity to alleviate the status of democracy and strengthen it, in fact the mutual squabbling of the political leaders excited the other players to assume a role. Moreover, in Pakistan the politics is more personality-driven rather than issues-driven, which has an overall negative impact on the evolution of independent institutions and has fanned the vested interests. Political parties are mere puppet in the hands of different families and party elections are considered taboo and it seems that political parties have dictatorship at their own core!
In true democracy, political leaders derive their power from the people thus they are intrepid and assume more audacious visions, consequently the respective country forms an independent foreign policy that best suits its interests but feeble democracy is devoid of these characteristics. Pakistan has so-far failed to furnish its independent foreign policy, with faint support in their own country; political leaders are swayed by the world powers, thus they undermine the national interests and sovereignty of the country
All the ills of democracy can be cured by more democracy- Alfred E. Smith
Though democracy has failed many times to establish its firm roots in Pakistan, but every dark cloud has a silver lining, all these failures actually provide us an insight into what went wrong and how democracy can be preserved from de-railing next time. The first essential step seems to stop interruption in the democratic process and the elected government must be allowed to complete its tenure in any case. Secondly, a major chunk of the population wants greater Islamic character in the democratic setup and legislation. Incorporating true Islamic injunctions will lead to a more cohesive civil society and will foil any attempts by the extremists to paint that democracy is antithesis to Islamic form of government. We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools— Martin Luther King, Jr.
Reforming the judiciary and incorporating the Islamic laws can also soothe the deprived and poor masses which have been manipulated by the extremists. Moving on, corruption and selfish attitudes is eating away the institutional structure of our country and such mal-practices never allowed democracy to flourish. There is a need to engineer an accountability mechanism, so that these wrong-doings are kept in check.
There is a dire need to strengthen the public institutions, in order to ensure the supremacy of law so that rules govern the country rather than the personalities. The glaring example of many European countries may be quoted, where institutions enjoy the ultimate powers. Democracy in actuality can only be achieved through such measures.
Common man was compelled by the existing setup to stay away from contesting an election. Hitherto it was a prerogative of the affluent and feudal classes; such practices are against the moral, democratic and Islamic principles. The necessary ingredient for the success of democracy in Pakistan is the emancipation of the rural areas from the clutches of the local landlords, i.e. to take steps for the abolition of 'Jagirdari' System. The criteria of merit; the right of freedom and equal progress for common people should be promoted. Young and morally upright persons should come forward and actively take part in democratic setup and elected member must be nurtured with the notion that they have to serve the nation and they have to bail out this nation. A leader is a dealer in hope—Napoleon Bonaparte
Our constitution does not provide an effective system of check and balance. That is why every elected civilian government becomes omnipotent and powerful which give rise to corruption and mal-administration. There is no effective system of governance which can keep proper check on the decisions and the steps taken by PM and his cabinet. Judiciary must be made strong enough to keep a strong check over these important matters.
In Pakistan, the rulers, political parties and leaders and the civil society groups support democracy at the normative or conceptual level. The politically active circles demand representative governance and participatory decision making in the political and economic fields. They highlight fair and free electoral process, the rule of law, socio-economic justice and accountability of those exercising state power as the pre-requisites for a political system.
The credulous masses were an easy prey to the mercenary politicians, had they been educated, they must have asked the elected members for their rights denied, opportunities curtailed and for defrauding the tax-payers money. Imparting education on a national scale will galvanize the masses to form a check on political leadership. The political energy in Pakistan is extravagantly wasted on inter-provincial squabbling. There is a dire need to get the nation out of the rut of provincialism, so that they feel proud on being Pakistani and strive for the cause of Pakistan thus strengthening the institutions and democracy in the country.
In a democratic state, media has rightly been called the fourth pillar of the state. It can play a more vibrant, positive and constructive role rather than becoming another compromised institution. Information is the currency of democracy—Thomas Jefferson
Finally, the strategic position and now the war against terror has brought Pakistan in the limelight of the international community, so international community should help Pakistan in establishing a workable democratic system or should at least stay away from anointing the dictators, but it is only possible through the visionary and sagacious approach of the med
The world has ultimately come to a conclusion after having experimented different forms of government like Monarchy, Oligarchy, military or civil Dictatorships etc. These governments failed despite sincere wishes of the individual leaders who came to the fore through any of these Processes. In line with the lessons of history and despite all its past experiences of failure, there is no other messianic way out to lead Pakistan toward a progressive state except to establish the roots of democracy firmly. Democracy is not only a form of government; it is a philosophy which encompasses all aspects of rights and freedom. In Pakistan, however, the already difficult situation has been aggravated by constant failures which never let democracy to survive. The positive change is still slow, but a bleak past or murky present in no way means a foredoomed future as well. However, colossal efforts at every level are required for democracy to take root. In all this hopelessness, there must be a desire for moving forward. The future of democracy may be doubtful but it not at an end yet.
The road to democracy may be winding and is like the river taking many curves but eventually the river will reach the ocean—Chen Shui-Bian(10th and 11th-term President of the Republic of China)
The historical facts and arguments validate the notion that democracy is a culture rather than a process. The democratic values and socialization have to gain acceptance in a society if democracy is to flourish as a political system. However, this does not mean that democracy cannot be established in the long run, in a state where there is absence of democratic culture. Culture itself is an organic thing and changes with the course of history. If the intellectual elite of a country succeed in propounding those ideas to the extent that these values are embraced by the people of that land at a mass level, and the socio-economic conditions, to some extent, are conducive for them then the democratic system can genuinely flourish in that society and country.
There is a need to reform the judiciary, in the presence of an independent judicial system, the discrepancies are kept in check thus it ensures enduring democracy through fair and free elections, without fair and free elections the actual shape of democracy can’t be prevail. It is the responsibility of the state to hold elections in such a way that everyone be able to contest elections regardless of his financial status. The state must try to build up a culture of meritocracy instead of monetocracy (money as the basis for progress) which is the prevailing norm of the political culture of the underdeveloped world.
In order to develop an effective system of governance participation of women should be encouraged as according to latest count, women ratio is .48:52 respectively.
Media should also play a positive role in creating awareness among people regarding their problems and their solutions. In this way people will be able to demand their rights and will perform their duties and responsibilities in a more organized way.
Democracy in Pakistan faced a host of difficulties which did not let the democratic principles, institutions and processes develop firm roots in the polity. In Pakistan, periodic breakdown of the political order and repeated military take- over or attempts by the top brass to shape the political process to their political preferences did not ensure political continuity and the competing interest did not get equal opportunity to freely enter the political mainstream. . Democracy and the autonomy of civilian institutions and processes has been the major casualty of the expanded role of the military. Whenever Pakistan returned to civilian and constitutional rule, the quality of democracy remained poor. It is a case of democracy deficit. The long term endurance of the political institutions and the prospects of democracy faces four major challenges in Pakistan: the non-expansion of participatory opportunities for those viewed as adversaries by the military dominated regime, the poor performance of the elected assemblies, failure to build consensus on the operational norms of the political system, and a drift towards confrontation, religious and cultural intolerance and extremism.
This does not mean that the people have given up on the primacy of the popular will, participatory governance, accountability of the rulers and governance for serving the people. The ideological commitment to these principles persists which will continue to question the legitimacy of no participatory and authoritarian governance and political management