Fundamentals of democracy

Addressing the inauguration ceremony of Pakistan first coal, clinker terminal at Port Qasim, Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi said democracy is sine qua non for the progress and prosperity of the country and its people. He credited the people for their decision in favor of democratic system and noted that continuity of the system would also provide panacea to certain issues. He said the people will decide the future of the government.

There are no two opinions about the virtues of democracy particularly its linkage with progress and prosperity of the people. But for stable and delivering democracy abidance of the basic fundamentals of transparency and rule of law are inevitable. However, the ruling elite’s attitude towards these core ingredients has always been of disdain and deliberate neglect. Hence, repeated interludes between elected governments and one man rule.

The elected governments did not focused their attention on basic problems confronting the people and out of frustration they had no choice but to welcome the dictatorial regimes. The hallmark of President’s Ayub Khan Era was the golden age of economic development and prosperity. It was characterized by a spectacular economic growth rate of 8 percent per annum, low inflation rate, high level of employment and low prices of consumers goods of daily use. The elected government of Z.A Bhutto ruined the economy by massive nationalization of private industrial enterprises and banks. These so called structural reforms torpedoed the flourishing economy and the economic growth rate dropped to 2 percent because of lock outs in the industrial and agriculture sectors. The incentive that boosted exports were withdrawn and currency was devalued by more than 60 percent without any rationale which increased the burden of foreign debt. The succeeding despotic regime turned the economy round. It spent more and more on social sector development whereas the succeeding elected governments of PPP and PML (N) destroyed the economy by financial mismanagement and rampant corruption. Again the military led government of General Musharraf revived the economy by successful waiver of a reasonable amount of foreign debt, debt swap, debt rescheduling with freezing interest rate and early debt retirement.

The fundamental of transparency, which is essential for the honest and judicious utilization of national resources, is not being observed. In agreements with Independent Power Producers, Rental Power Companies and LNG purchase from Qatr the rules of transparency have been violated. These agreements are heavily loaded against the interest of the country and its people.

The attitude of political elite has been recalcitrant to rule of law. The vilification campaign against the judiciary by the former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, sitting federal ministers and PML (N) leaders is a vivid example defiance to the rule law. The power show by PML (N) associated lawyers and workers in the Accountability Court the other day amply explain the disrespect of ruling party for the judiciary and justice system.

A cursory look at western democracies show that people’s welfare is the salient feature of the governance and democratic system there. In these countries parliaments pass laws for the wellbeing of the people. On the contrary in Pakistan person specific and elites legislations get the priority. Election Law 2017 is the recent example. A functional democracy can be established if transparency is observed and rule of law is respected.