Pakistanis are, without exaggeration, the only people in the world to have misused the term democracy in every possible way. The latest definition of it (and one you can see on the rear windows of many cars in Clifton) is â€œdemocracyâ€¦ is the best revengeâ€. Inane as this sentence is; it has become a slogan of the civil society of this country. It has also become the reason I fear for the future.
You see, when the most â€˜democraticâ€™ party of Pakistan does not believe in holding fair elections within the party itself; and leadership is actually passed on via wills, then you begin to think whether anybody even knows what democracy is. Itâ€™s not a slogan. Itâ€™s not a device to get the top chair. And for crying out loud, it is NOT the best revenge (against whom? For what?! ) Itâ€™s a lot simpler, and yet a bit more complex then what weâ€™ve been taught by the media channels.
Democracy can be divided into two categories: Direct Democracy, and Representative democracy. To understand Direct Democracy, imagine having all 170 million people of Pakistan as members of the National Assembly. Now imagine, trying to come to a decision. Direct Democracy is rarely used in any political institution since itâ€™s impractical, and inefficient and probably very noisy.
The second category is Representative Democracy. This is what TIP (and Pakistan) claims to be. Instead of including every individual in state decisions, the individuals elect people who will represent them in the assembly. This also means that if the guy you elect screws up, heâ€™s accountable (as you are too, after all, whyâ€™d you vote for a nut?). This accountability is the very essence of democracy; though as Pakistanis, we probably donâ€™t believe in it.
Other than accountability, there are 5 main principles of a democracy:
- Freedom of Debate, Speech and Opinion
- Open, Accountable and Diverse Media
- Economic Democracy for the People
- Equality before the Law
- Popular Governance, through Elections
1) Freedom of Debate, Speech and Opinion
In George Orwellâ€™s â€˜1984â€™, the government had a secret agency called the thought police to monitor any dissent among the people. But in a democracy, you can curse the government; hold insanely leftist views, hold insanely right views and until you do something unlawful, the government canâ€™t do anything about it.
2) Open, Accountable and Diverse Media
Open and diverse is easily understandable, but accountable? This means that the media should actually take responsibility for whatever they show, or print and its subsequent effect on people. So you see, technically our media is anarchic (that means free to the point of lawless) rather then democratic.
3) Economic Democracy for the People
You would be surprised to know that capitalism and democracy go hand and hand. You canâ€™t expect to have a socialist outlook on the economy and yet consider yourself a democrat. Economic democracy means empowering people with the means of creating and controlling their own money supply. This method of money creation gives great power to those private individuals and organizations that create the money. So if you see people screaming â€œDown with the rich! Empower the poor!â€ and â€œWe want democracy!â€ in one breath, theyâ€™re hypocrites of the worst order.
4) Equality before the Law
Each citizen has an equal ability to seek and receive justice. Simple? Not really. For that youâ€™d require honest judges, honest lawyers (ha!), and a law that states a trial shouldnâ€™t last more than 2 months. Oh, and maybe a jury of honest civilians would also help.
5) Popular Governance, through Elections
Yup. Here is democracy as we know and love it. We (supposedly) elect our leaders according to their stance on foreign affairs, economy, internal affairs etc. In a Popular Democracy, the government is the servant of the people, not their master. Its job is to listen, respond and deliver to that which is demanded by the people.
But lets think for a bit, how much of what we demand is rational, and in the interest of the country? And the leaders we elect (in some cases repeatedly); is what they deliver what the country really needs?
Democracy ISNâ€™T the ultimate governing system. It has flaws, and loopholes, and though uptil now it has been the most successful system, it is more because of the people who follow that system rather than the system itself. Honest people would even make a tyranny work for the best. Before we make it into our tagline, we should actually know what it is, and maybe then we can figure out how it works.