Democracy Blog: Evolution of Democracy in Pakistan
Pakistan is sixth most populous country in the world, created on the basis of popular will of people in 1947 with the vision to have a liberal, moderate and democratic parliamentary federation. Soon after independence, Pakistan adopted British legacy constitutional framework and introduced the parliamentary democracy, following much from the Government of India Act 1935 - the last constitution of British India.However, Pakistan being a postcolonial state, the democratic experience was underpinned by the steel frame of bureaucracy and political stability and institutionalized democratic set up remained a distant dream. The country has a checkered history with a few interludes of democratic rule during the sixty eight years of its existence.
The first Constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan was adopted in 1956 which was abrogated just two years later by the martial law. During the first eleven years, eight successively governments were formed and sooner collapsed. Unfortunately, the inconsistent democratic history continued till 2008, alternating between elected governments and long spells of military dictators since its inception.
Pakistan has travelled a long distance towards its march on the path of democracy. The parliamentary democracy collapsed four times primarily due to mismanagement, disproportionate development of institutional matrix and the mounting political ambitions of the military generals. The military dictators have always sabotaged political development and mainstream political parties; and have advocated religious, ethnic and tribal politics to legitimize their regimes by rigged referendum. Over the years, the support to religious and ethnic groups has led to underground nurseries for breeding of extremism and terrorism. During military regime there was considerable economic development and prosperity, however, Pakistan democratic institutions were crushed and country had to endure two wars with India. On the other hand elected politicians have not much contributed towards democracy rather have been involved in incessant cycle of corruption, dynastic politics, nepotism and money laundering during the short duration they were at the helm of affairs. The fruit of democracy – good governance – albeit remained a dream.
With the outcome of general elections 2013, it was for the first time that a politically elected government successfully completed its tenure was replaced by another democratically elected government. However, the credibility and acceptability of these elections remained questionable by some parties in the opposition, till an “Inquiry Commission” comprising Supreme Court Judges which declared the 2013 elections were in large part organized and conducted justly and fairly in accordance with the law and reflection of the true mandate given by the electorate. Even now, the people of Pakistan have to undergo a long way in quest for the thirst of true democracy, leading to ultimate goal of good governance.