Democracy and education
THIS is apropos of the letter ‘Flawed democracy’ by a member of the Punjab Assembly, Zafar Zulqurnain Sahi (Dec 2), in which he has analysed the reasons why democracy cannot function in Pakistan.
He says democracy primarily never existed in its true spirit in Pakistan. Ours is a distorted form not reflecting the ‘popular will’ of the people. Soon after elections the link is severed between the people and parliament and decisions are taken at the highest level without taking the ‘popular will’ into account.
However, one reason he cites for a flawed democracy is the degree of illiteracy prevailing in the country and, secondly, the poor turnout of the voters.
Mr Zafar puts it at 44 per cent, whereas in reality it has never been above 35 per cent. He rightly points out that the party that claims majority in the parliament represents only a miniscule of the total population. So, how can it be the popular will of the people? What he calls the ‘non-democratic trends’ of our mainstream political parties is in reality the ‘dynastic leadership’ within the political parties.
Party leadership is inherited, not elected. We have still not got out of the Mughal era. Under such circumstances how can we have a democratic dispensation in the country? Every political party is a little serfdom and the serfs can only vote for their masters.
Zafar says we must put our heads together to find an answer that represents the popular will of the people. Popular will can only come about by awareness for which the basic requirement is education. An educated society can break the shackles of a feudalistic society and bring serfdom to an end.
Elections for party leadership must be governed by strict laws preventing party inheritance. Only then can parliament be a body of lawmakers. Development funds must not be the prerogative of parliamentarians – their role must be to recommend development in their area. Disbursement of development funds must be in the hands of an independent body. Then there must be a team of field experts to oversee the progress of the project – thus can corruption be minimised. But trust a Pakistani, he will always find ways to beat the system.
Finally, an awareness campaign advising the public to exercise their franchise in order to have a say in the working of the government must be repeated in the media. Failure to exercise your right automatically denies you the right to ask.
WG-CDR (Rtd) SARDAR AHMED SHAH JAN