Democracy For Pakistan: A Historical Analysis

At the time of partition, Pakistan, following the footprints of the west and postcolonial layout, opted for the British parliamentary system and later adopted it in the Constitution of 1956 — a relatively unwritten law which granted too many prerequisites which do not really exist in a country like Pakistan.

Historically, the people of the Indian subcontinent have long been deprived of self-rule for more than 1000 years, which made these newly independent citizens a threat for modern democracy they inherited.

Babur, the founder of Mughal Empire in India, was a descendant of Amir Timur (also known as Timur Lang who was a Muslim and founder of Timurid Empire in Persia and Central Asia) and hailed from the Barlas tribe, which was of Mongol origin and had embraced Turkic and Persian culture in India.

He was also, ancestrally, not an Indian, same as other whites in India. The Mughals, however, did not have a home to take away their wealth to, unlike the British, and all the resources revolved around the locals Indians.

After the foundation and development of British East India Company in 1600s, the long Persian rule in India started to be replaced by the Britain’s, and in two centuries the map of India completely changed, dividing the people both, mentally and geographically.

Fast forward to 1940s, just before the independence, when All-India Muslim League and specifically Muhammad Ali Jinnah was anxious to put more and more men into the party to strengthen the idea of Pakistan, he issued an appeal stating:

“Vote for a Muslim Leaguer even if it be a lamp-post.”

And people compiled cheerfully; some even literally!

When the independence came, the gentlemen thus elected found themselves in a position of vantage to assume power in the newly founded nation, and ready to take the whole political system into their immature hands.

The outgoing Parliament of Pakistan had eighty seats, each member presuming to represent about a million of his countrymen.

Those who were, in the beginning, thought to serve the idea of Pakistan, later got influenced by the hunger of power after its creation.

To this day, much of those in power are their direct decedents, who were bought into politics by the nation’s founder and founding party itself.

Without any knowledge of politics whatsoever, these landlords, tribal chiefs and political families, or so-called, mafias, protected through their kinship, still command an enormous sway and are found in the top ranks today — making the democratic process, in some manners, a fancy name for the same traditional inheritance, or caste system in the rural areas.

According to Francis Fukuyama (an American political scientist, political economist, and author), the colonial powers left three institutions in former colonies as a legacy after the decolonization: the bureaucracy, military, and democracy.

The bureaucracy and military — parted from the British Indian Army — were strengthened by the colonial governments in order to maintain strong control over the domestic environment.

Democracy, however, did not flourish as the locals, as mentioned earlier, were not used to of the self-government.

After decolonization, the nascent states had strong institutions of bureaucracy and military, as it was much easier to maintain than to create something out of scratch.

While the democracy, which these newly independent civilians had to form, was relatively a weaker institution and got influenced by the other two powerful authorities.

This lead to a strong grip of the former two institutions on the state of affairs in the decolonized states such as India and Pakistan, who stood above the law and interfered in the democratic process.

Whereas the democratic institutions itself were not as developed as in the case of western societies.

When the British left divided India, the two nations inherited the western democracy, a system which was, in the words of Socrates himself, too cruel to be used on a nation, especially for the new ones like India and Pakistan.

In Book Six of The Republic, Plato is seen describing Socrates falling into conversation trying to get citizens to see the flaws of that democracy bring by comparing society to a ship.

If you were heading out on a journey by an ocean, asks Socrates, who would you ideally want deciding who was in charge of the vessel? Just anyone or folks educated within the rules and demands of seafaring?

The latter, of course, says Adeimantus, so why then, responds Socrates, do we keep thinking that any old person should be fit to judge who should be a ruler of a country?

Socrates points that voting in an election is a skill, not a random intuition of its people. And like any skill, it should and needs to be taught systematically to people.

Letting the grouping vote without having any education is as unreliable as to make them responsible of a galley sailing to Samos in a very storm.

The reason why ballot box produces a corrupt or incapable power in Pakistan today is to be found in its root cause that it is not meant to produce power in a nation like Pakistan. The very people it tries to deal, are unaware of how it works, or it should work in the first place.

The state system should not be left in the hands of very people who themselves are in desperate need of change, but rather given to those who reject these people as they are and have a vision of how they should be, and also the guts to realize that vision.

We must, therefore, have democracy. But a form of democracy between the ballot box and dictatorship in order to progress socioeconomically. Pakistan, in short, needs a dictator — a civilian one — so it may never again have a dictator.

Until then, the ballot box, be it even presidential system, will continue to produce an incapable power, not because of the candidates, but because of voters themselves, who elect them.

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