Democracy is a government of the people, by the people and for the people. It’s a process whereby a political party or individuals are backed by a group of like-minded constituents to implement a given policy. Politicians are voted into office to make laws for the state institutions to perform and advance a specific agenda.
Public voting is the pivot around which the concept of democracy revolves, but democracy is not merely about holding elections periodically to distribute powers among political parties according to their electoral strength. The ultimate aim of this whole exercise is to strengthen the state institutions and to govern the masses according to their wishes.
Democracy is an ongoing experience that never finishes. It is both a process and a goal. It can only be strengthened and sustained by developing state institutions. Strong, autonomous and clearly mandated institutions such as civil service, the judiciary, independent electoral system and other local institutions need to be developed in order to play a role in the development and maintenance of democratic culture.
In our political system, individuals and political parties seem to be more important than the state and its institutions. We have seen examples where the laws were made for the sake of personalities instead of state or its institutions. Amendment in Election Bill 2017, which allows a person disqualified from holding public office to head a political party, lifting the ban on third time prime minister-ship and chief minister-ship through Eighteenth Amendment and the famous National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO 2007) are the examples to quote a few.
State institutions must be strengthened rather than individuals. A strong and efficient legislature, independent judiciary, implementing departments and powerful bureaucracy are more important than leaders’ personalities. These institutions provide a check and balance, and help running the government’s business smoothly even in the face of a less-than-competent leader.
Our institutions are weak, judiciary not completely independent, and bureaucracy being paralyzed by political interference and shuffling with changing political regimes. Even after seven decades of independence, what we see around are ill-equipped schools and hospitals, corrupt political regimes, bad governance, nepotism, lawlessness and lack of accountability.
Our political parties have always misguided the public about democracy. Whenever our political parties are in trouble, they start pleading about the danger of democracy and derailing of whole system. Actual democratic disorder doesn’t lie in the threat to the government of a political party but in weakening of state and its institutions. Political parties should keep their political disputes in political fray and avoid dragging the institutions into their political domain for the sake of their own interests.
Our civilian governments have harmed democracy more than the dictatorships combined. Instead of supporting and strengthening democratic institutions, political parties seem to be at war with the institutions of democracy. At times the government and opposition seem to be systematically defaming the institutions of accountability and justice.
Where the political governments are corrupt and not following democratic norms, the benefits of democracy in the form of institutional reforms and good governance will not be visible. Democracies in the western developed countries have become strong through an evolutionary process. We have yet to learn a lot of things and institutional reforms may be the beginning to start from.
Democracy should bring lawfulness, peace, development and prosperity. If this democracy cannot fulfill the wishes of public and is unable to serve the masses according to their wishes, the exercise of public voting will be fruitless and people will lose their faith in democracy. Then the slogans of ShukriaRaheelShareef and Ye Janay Ki Baatain Janay Do will be inevitable. Strengthening institutions and improving the quality of governance is the only way that can hopefully restore some level of confidence in masses and the public can have some faith in the democratic system.