Speaking at the inauguration ceremony of the first unit of 1320 Mega Watts coal fired thermal power plant at Port Qasim, the prime Minister Shahid Kaqan Abbasi reiterated his resolve towards strengthening and taking forward democracy in the country. He said election will be held in August next year and our future lies in democracy, adding that there is no choice here. Prime Abbasi said, “We have a vibrant democracy; we have freedom of expression; we have free media; and together the institutions of state have delivered for the people of Pakistan. We may have differences of opinion, we may have Dharna; we may have differences; but institutions of state stood together to defeat terrorism and reject extremism”, he maintained.
There is no denying of the fact that future of the country is linked with democracy. But actions of oligarchic political elite do not commensurate what they say about the virtues of democracy. The political parties are run like family limited companies and there is no internal democracy with in their structures and organization. One man say is the order of day. The disqualified former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is still running the affairs of the country through remote control acquired under certain provisions of 18th Amendment to the Constitution. The sitting prime Minister is compelled to look up to him for decisions on various matters. Is this true and vibrant democracy? Genuine party elections are not held to organize political parties on democratic principles and traditions. Party tickets are sold for millions of rupees to the so called electable, who after becoming members of parliament give precedence to self interest over the weal and welfare of the people and purist of national interest. They seldom perform their real duty of law making and are always after the acquisition huge development funds, the larger part of which is misappropriated. Lack of Quorums in the lower and upper houses of the parliament has become a routine.
Transparency and rule of law are the basic fundamental of real democracy. The Western counties and India abide by these fundamental in letter and spirit. Does our ruling elite care for them in Pakistan? The answer is a big no. The international contracts, including the LNG deal with Qatar, have not been made in a transparent manner. In democracies the politicians pay their taxes honestly, but in our country tax evasion by the ruling class has become an established norm. Likewise, in democratic system of governments human health is the first priority, but in Pakistan it receives the worst deal. The countries of European Union are closing the coal based thermal power plants although they are using state-of-the-art technologies with built-in advanced antipollution devices. But our government is very much after setting up coal fired thermal power plants of obsolete Chinese technology which are causing half a million deaths every year in China because of fatal diseases like Asthma and cancer. These plants are installed close to the cities with big populations with no safety systems, ignoring the bitter fact that they will bring innumerable sufferings for the people.
The Paris Agreement of Climate Change emphasizes the closure of such hazardous power plants and urges embellishment of environment friendly hydro and wind power plants. Unfortunately, the ruling elite have all along shown indifference and animosity to the construction of big dams and hydro power stations. Consequently, precious water resources valuing $ 22 billion are thrown into the sea every year. Vibrant democracy does not mean merely general elections on time electing the oligarchy. It is the democratic attitude reflected in the weal and welfare of the people. We are still far away from this glorious destination.