Which charter of democracy?

Two former Prime Ministers Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif, who were leading two main stream political parties, Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz  PML-N had signed a charter of democracy (CoD) in May 2006 with an apparent objective of peoples’ participatory democracy. The people expected that if these political parties were allowed to complete their tenures of governments, an era of true democracy will start based on the basic fundamentals of rule of law, transparency, good governance and accountability.

The PPP and PML-N did complete their five years terms of government but utterly neglected the basic problems of poverty, unemployment and social injustice. Yes the so called CoD strengthened the grip of feudal and mercantile classes on the power structure of the government to raise the level of exploitation of the masses in the garb of oligarchic elected civilian rule. The net result is rampant corruption, tax evasion, default and waiver of billions of bank loans, massive default of utility bills and money laundering by the political and business elite, putting the nation on the road towards abject poverty.

Now the PPP leadership is clamouring for signing another CoD among the political which remained part and parcel of the past 10 years bad governance and the worst exploitation of 200 million people. Addressing a press conference, before leaving for a public meeting at Lalamosa, PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari stressed the need for signing a new CoD by all democratic parties aimed at ensuring fundamental rights of the citizens. He said, “I have no issue in having a broader discussion among all democratic parties, not just the PPP and PML-N.” What does the phraseology “all democratic parties” signify? Does it include PTI or the ones which were the allies of PPP and PML-N in power play in the last 10 years?

The young PPP chairman complained that his party did not have a “positive experience” as for as the implementation of CoD signed between Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif when both these leaders were in exile during the General Musharraf led elected government of PML (Q). Through the document of 36 points, the leadership of these two parties honoured their commitment of not dislodging each other government and certain statisque protecting legislations whereas the essentials of real democracy pertaining to the ensuring basic fundamental rights to the people were deliberately neglected. Majority of country’s population does not have access to clean drinking water, better medical facilities, education at affordable price, and safety of life. The death of infants in Thar, mass target killing of innocent people in Karachi and interior Sindh, animosity towards building storage dams to tackle water crisis and turning a blind eye to the genocide of TTP are a few worth mentioning examples.

The shady deals in international contracts by the governments of both political parties, money laundering, stashing away the ill gotten wealth for investment in offshore assets and mismanagement of the economy pushed the country to verge of bankruptcy. Can Pakistan and its people afford and endure another such round of CoD?

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