Do we have a democratic, theocratic or a security state?

ByAlam Brohi

A former Ambassador of Pakistan and was associated with Foreign Service of Pakistan


October 22, 2022

State Of Democracy In Pakistan

Ambassador Alam Brohi comments on prevailing contradictions

The political, economic, and security conditions of the country continue to trouble conscious citizenry. The nation has been grappling with political polarization and the onerous woes of the bad economic situation aggravated by the regime change in April 2022. The devastation of unprecedented floods has further exacerbated the situation putting the country into deep trouble and exposing its populace to a state of democracy in Pakistan of depravity it has not experienced before.

Added to such a problematic scenario are two other serious issues brewing and they are the resurgence of the security specter in the scenic valley of Swat and the excessive abuse of religion in the political discourse by our politicians. In wake of the present situation, it is hardly needed to emphasize that this combustible mix could cause serious harm to the national matrix if not paid attention to and properly diffused.

The political tussle has already peaked to an incredulous level with the federal and the Punjab provincial governments resorting to excessive abuse of governmental power to register absurd cases against each other’s political opponents.

The continuous political pressure on the relatively weak federal government mounted by the PTI chief and the potential he has shown to dislodge the Pakistan Muslim League from its traditional power base through his relentless public campaign has overwrought the PDM leadership particularly the Pakistan Muslim Leaguers giving them sleepless nights.

The ongoing political quarreling has impacted almost all the institutions of the state of democracy in Pakistan and robbed the nation of its capacity of coming together to face a security threat. The response of the nation to the devastation caused by the torrential rains and flash floods leaves much to be desired.

Flash Floods And Hydra-Headed Terrorists

At the heel of the flash floods, we have the hydra-headed terrorist outfit –Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan – raising the specter of security threats in the northern areas of the country. Notwithstanding the past experiences, the federal government made a blunder in starting talks with this outlawed group which has never been amenable to respect the writ of the state of democracy in Pakistan and its basic law.

The nation came to know about its resurgence when a school van with children was fired upon killing its driver triggered last week’s massive protest by the people of Swat which forced the federal government to shake out of its complacency and reactivate the almost dormant National Counter Terrorism Authority (NACTA) and alerted the security forces to stem the menacing regrouping of the terrorist outfit.

The massive turnout of the people at the protesting rallies in Swat and Rawalpindi testified to the public hunger for peace and peaceful living. The nation has long gone past the yesteryears bearing these mad, intolerant, extremist, and militant groups in the name of religion. It has firmly anchored in the norms of a pluralistic and democratic polity.

The educated families of the middle and lower middle class from the urban and rural regions of the country have clearly shown their firm belief in democratic politics as signified by the massive public turnout at the political rallies of the leaders they follow.

This is an encouraging development that gives us hope for the development of a democratic polity in the country. However, there are looming threats to the gradually developing democratic norms in society. Keeping in view the past experience, the possibility of extra-constitutional threat cannot be completely ruled out – not because an adventurist general would upset the applecart.

Parliament And State Of Democracy In Pakistan

Secondly, our politicians have shown little respect for the constitutional term of the parliament and an elected government which is a sine qua non for a democratic polity. Thirdly, the derogatory, vituperative, and abusive name-calling within the political discourse carried on from the 1970s has developed into a vicious video making of private moments of political opponents and high state of Democracy In Pakistan officials, and the tape recording of the private and official conversation of the highest office holders within the walls of their high offices.

This horrendous act is unimaginable in civilized societies. Fourthly, the current political tussle has also eroded the traditional respect for our security establishment. Fifthly, the unnecessary discussion about the appointment of the next Chief of Army Staff has the potential of spiraling out of control and causing a mishap. Sixthly, the forthcoming protest march by PTI could descend into bloodletting and derail the fragile democracy that we have right now. Before that happens, would our leaders sit together to find a way out? No hope I entertain about us.

The most dangerous threat to democracy is the excessive abuse of religion by politicians. Our religious leaders particularly the revered President of PDM feel no qualms in dubbing their lone political opponent as a Jewish and Israeli agent forcing him to place excessive reliance on the religious overtones underpinning his speeches. This is not a new phenomenon. The religious leaders have been liberally dubbing their political opponents as anti-Islam since the adoption of the Objectives Resolution as the basis of the Constitution of the country.

State Of Democracy In Pakistan Issues

The issue of the finality of the Prophet (PBUH) has been quite sensitive. Many high office holders in the country have been labeled as Qadianis in the recent past for political reasons. One senior Muslim Leaguer standing on the floor of the House accused the most popular leader of the country of the blasphemous and heretic act of inventing a new religion. This practice has only strengthened religious factionalism fueling religious fanaticism without any obvious political dividends. We have already lost precious lives to sectarianism and fanaticism.

The country is going through challenging times. We need to lower the political tension by showing flexibility and accommodation. The current political tussle has impacted the premier institutions of the country. The regime change has failed to reduce the political and economic instability in the country.

The new ruling lot has also grossly failed to inspire public confidence. Rather, the hasty and abrupt amendments made to the accountability laws have created a chaotic legal situation and grossly damaged the credibility of the ruling coalition. The coalition leaders should come forward to establish communication lines with the PTI to find a way out of the current political impasse. Neither side affords to sustain the present political tension at the cost of the citizenry.   The Weekender


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