Evolving our own Democracy

By Naveed Tajammal

For democracy to succeed in Pakistan, we have to evolve our own form of democracy. That cannot be achieved by an imitation of the Westminster type of democracy. It must suit the social life and the national spirit of the Pakistani people. It must fit into its national structure. Otherwise, as has been seen during the last 60 years or so, it has brought more harm than good for the country. To create and make a Constitution one has to study the psychology and sociology of a nation.

Our people are still in a slumber. The question arises can ‘sleeping’ people understand the value of freedom? People will wake up only when they are aware of their own aims and goals. So far, we have been led by a band of dynastic rulers. The present form of democracy, as being run in our country, is along the lines of the English system. Such democracy has always been supported by the crown. The strength of the British crown has been the navy and the land forces, the air force came later. The queen-empress or the king-emperor heads the forces. The aura added stability to this type of democracy.

In our part of the world, on the other hand, the leaders for quite some time till now are progenies of the former collaborators, whom the British had made into nawabs, tumandars, and chiefs. They may not be in the front but the people’s power from the rural areas is still with them. The then world power in which the sun never set, the rule of the union jack had created a new set of rulers for us after the fall of what is now called Sindh, Punjab, NWFP and the Northern Areas.

Men who had provided ‘services’ to the crown were awarded titles and positions in our society that still linger on in one form or the other. The British had created them in wake of their forward policies but the British had left our land 60 years ago. Do we need them now? Why do we still adhere to them? Why no government of the past has touched them. This is a major factor. Men like Iskandar Mirza boasted of their links with Mir Jaffar of Bengal. None challenged him. What our nation desperately needs is an in-take of fresh blood in our political system.

The condition of graduation as the minimum standard of education did put an end to the practice of illiterate people becoming MNAs and MPAs. They ensured their presence by throwing in their new breed of graduates. The only difference is that they now speak English in American accent. This, in a way, shows the state of our political bankruptcy. The elders still play the thana-katchehry politics. It is also a fact that those in power are bullied by those in the opposition, whose main target is to attain power by fair or foul means regardless of the harm they do to the national interest or cause. Sometimes the opposition succeeds in turning the tables on the rulers in power and the role is merely reversed when the opposition comes to power.

Mudslinging continues and the benefit is reaped while the sun shines. They bask in its glory. Therefore, an insight in any level of leadership is a must. It is the duty of the state to be able to ensure that. Hardly any political party can claim a vote bank, except for the religious parties. But that is a different story. Our blood hounds sniff the air, the political air, before they join the fray. They maintain the legacy of their past masters to ensure that disharmony and a state of uncertainty should always prevail. Changing the bandwagons is a matter of a whim. Today we have the PPP, yesterday it was PML (Q). Before that, it was the ever-loyal PML (N). So, where is the vote bank?

Remember, here the object is not a national cause. Here the true chameleon has to recoup his election costs, and the payment he made to the party funds for getting a ticket. Unfortunately, our writers make such a fuss of the leadership that they fail to see what the same lot has done in the past, maybe under the shadow of a different bandwagon. The solution is a one-time ticket awarded for a five-year term. The same holds good for the prime minister too. Let him prove his worth. If Sher Shah, with his resources available to him, could do what he did in five years, then the already developed infrastructure should be no hurdle for the new prime minister. He should come empty-handed and go empty-handed. After all, he wants to serve the country. I am sure even that despite all these constraints we, a population of 160 million, can locate a good person who takes our nation forward as one nation.

We have been an egalitarian society in the past in our salt range and above. The system still exists. Feudalism was imposed on us. Even in the Mughal administrative set up, the job of mansabdar, jagirdar or faujdar and other officials was never given to a person because of his credentials of ancestry. One had to achieve it through hard work. Each man did his best till he lasted. It was a matter of intellect. A mansabdar was fined he would fail in his job. In our lands, the concept of the rule of five elders in our villages had existed from the dawn of our times. It still does in the rural areas.

The same councils still decide the most complex matters. The town committees can handle the urban side. Barring the new settlers, the bulk of our city population is and still retains strong rural contacts. The thana-katchehry culture must end. It is a redundant practice. State officials must provide service at the door of the litigant. The writ of the state should ensure that. The original Gazette notification of 2000 was a good step forward in the local bodies elections if its clauses had been implemented. The law had then stated that no one with any political affiliation was allowed to contest. He had to be a tax payer. If such laws are implemented in true sense, this can be a giant leap forward.

The ‘old’ politician will die his own death. No seat becomes a family seat. Politics is not a profession. Each person aspiring to be a worker for his people takes his time out. In a nutshell, this is what a revolution is all about. The five-year clause is the force that will ensure that the political process moves forward and the peoples’ will prevails. With the present population of 160 million and a projected 300 million in three decades, it is about time we took the first step in the right direction by getting rid of the dynastic rulers.

The writer has a 28-year experience in investigating the identity of the Indus-person in a historical context.

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  • GRK  On May 5, 2013 at 5:48 pm

    as usual communication from a pakistani who knows understand ground realities.his comments echo the words of our quaid that every successive govt in pakistan will be more corrupt and incompetant.i have witnessed this during my 2 years of running in pakistan secretariat as well in lahore.i do not see any light at the end of tunnels,as the baboos in the fedral and provincial secretariat will continue,unless the new coming govt retires every grade 22 officer and elevate the juniors so that there is an incentive for juniors to show some thing different than their bosses.same should be that all IG are transfered to police academy and promote the junior one to lead a new team.grk

  • Naveed Tajammal  On May 5, 2013 at 5:50 pm

    Thankyou khan sahib for endorsement.

  • Reza Yousuf  On May 6, 2013 at 1:14 am

    Dear Sir Naveed Tajammal – Excellent piece of work as far as getting to the root cause of the problem is concerned in Pakistani society

    – First of all I am compelled to use the word Pakistani Society instead of Pakistani Nation because our Beloved Pakistan is deeply polarized… This is another main cause of democracy failure in Pakistan (other than the numerous drawbacks of democracy itself)
    – Since Pakistan was formed in the name of Islam and two nation theory (mainly based on religion), it cannot afford it’s existence without religion as a state policy… So except for nationalism & religion there cannot be any commonality among the people of Pakistan that binds them together
    – Our so-called democratic political leaders have done an excellent job in defining and creating differences between provinces, races and lingual attachments… Thus creating a chaos in the Pakistani Society
    – Our so-called religious leaders & their parties also have done an excellent job in defining differences between sects and beliefs… Again creating confusion among masses
    – A Century old bureaucratic system created by the British Raj to create and maintain gap between common people and rulers also plays a vital role in creating turmoil
    – Our dictators used all democratic political leaders, religious leaders and bureaucrats to fulfill their and their master’s wishes… That played another vital role to weaken the governing system
    So I fail to understand how come with such a polarized society one can even think of democracy of any type in Pakistan…
    Whereas, world has already tried so many different types of democracies, such as:
    1. Athenian Democracy
    2. Madisonian Democracy
    3. Popular Democracy
    4. Constitutional Democracy
    5. Reflective Democracy
    6. Inclusive Democracy
    7. Deliberative Democracy
    8. Participating Democracy
    9. Iranian Democracy
    10. Russian & Chinese Democracy
    11. Liberal Democracy
    12. Illiberal Democracy
    13. Theocratic Democracy
    14. Social Democracy
    15. Authoritarian Democracy
    16. Rawl’s Democracy
    17. Limited Democracy
    18. Kantian Republicanism
    Any type of democratic system is “Born of Corruption” – People who come in power under this system are naturally prone to corruption…
    Democracy is based on “CORRUPT CAPITALISTIC SYSTEM”
    Because the actual reason to create any type of democracy is to remove all hindrances creating any type of problem for CAPITALIST RATIONALITY and safeguard the interest of CAPITALIST MINORITY through legislative and constitutional protections…
    In democracy the sole purpose behind creating constitutional and legislative institutions is Colonization of the state by the universalization of market decision making practices and the necessary de-legitimation of majoritarian decisions that it entails…

    • Mahmood  On February 26, 2014 at 5:00 pm

      Unbelievable! …. “Any type of Democratic system is born out of corruption”…. ??? what are suggesting? Rule by Decree and Dictat? Who’s Decree and Dictat anyway. Don’t mix up corrupt democracy with democracy itself. Its is like saying many people tell the truth because of ulterior motives therefore truth is itself a bad thing

  • Naveed Tajammal  On May 6, 2013 at 2:35 am

    Thankyou Reza sahib,for reading and your reply is correct in a way,however we are in our deep- depth a ‘Egalitarian’ society,so we seek leader ship from amongst our own,those imposed by the British as yet survive,even people like Auyb,Yahya,Zia and musharaff not even remotely associated,with them,came under their spell,Because they all lacked the inner convictions,or the true Will to bring the Change,All talked of Revolution or have claimed its Name,yet failed to deliver,hence the ‘Quagmire’ as seen,Because once in power,they have likewise followed the easy path.After 1947 the change was needed, a drastic change,so came chances with subsequent coups,which thrust the power,onto those mentioned,,in line above,all have failed.And so those who could,have by the power of the barrel’ changed, the fate,of our Nation,eventually, became the stooges’ indirectly for the same lot.

  • Khalid Rahim  On May 6, 2013 at 4:46 am

    The problem with our leaders is their lack of insight to their own character! How then can see beyond their nose into the far horizon and develop foresight for the nation. Nepotism is the mother that breeds corruption and under the present political system the ordinary public will act like a herd of Ostriches. Both Reza Yousaf and Naveed Tajammal have expressed thoughtfully. As a nation we lack Civic sense which our present leadership or even the past never wanted us to develop as it would weaken their hold on the masses. The fallacy of grass root democracy evolved by PPP or MQM is teaching the masses about prostrating to a demagog. We live in world of fantasy claiming that by three or four timely general elections the public would be able to remove the weeds and allow the grass to grow! The weeds from the cult of Sardari, Biraderi, Wadera and Khanate system of our society and through them we can only reach our Omnipotent Creator by praying behind their appointed mullahs. If we muster moral courage and demand the end of political parties. Elect a Legislative Body of sane, educated people with no restriction to their religion but must be citizens born in Pakistan.Create more administrative provinces and begin the process of local self government holding elections every four years and for the Governors of the Province every two years so that he/she are able to control temptation. The Presidential form suits us and by direct eligible vote the candidate is elected for Four years and not more than two terms for members of Legislative Assembly
    the Presidency and the Governors. Necessary amendments in the Constitution removing all clauses that give immunity to any office holder, makes the majority behave like gods over the minority and make graduation compulsory to contest for elections. The civic sense of any nation can be tested by their obedience of Traffic rules and regulations which unfortunately lacks far more in our elite and educated. If we achieve this responsibility in the next 5-10 years, Then allow only five political parties under the constitution which must not bear the name of any family nor monopolized by a family.

    • Naveed Tajammal  On May 6, 2013 at 5:26 am

      Well said,Khalid sahib,the demand for change has to come from within,and it is high time the slogan should be raised,as well tabulated by you as well.The state must take over all vital industeries,we should revert to one unit,we were never a Federation till the British imposed upon us the present geographic entities[Balluchistan,Sindh,Punjab,Nwfp,Gilgit agency,as well the FATA,and other tribal,and related Agencies,even the Present Punjab and Balluchistan has a tribal belt,,which by itself remains a height of ineffiency],and the Act of 1935,With which we are still bound to,as seen,Yes new administrative boundaries are a need of the hour,keeping in view the present demographic mix.

  • idrees  On May 6, 2013 at 2:25 pm

    It is a most fundamental point for a polity. We took a short cut in our early nationhood. We continue to flounder. Totally agree that we must develop our institutions and constitution based on our ethos. It must be related to the temper, aspiration and character of the society forming our nation. We need to realize the necessity of it and design our system accordingly. I have the answer. That opportunity was with our elders in late 40s but we lost it in 56. We are still blind.


  • Munir Varraich  On May 6, 2013 at 2:25 pm

    Whatever the name of the system – “democracy” or “Panchayat” or “local government”, it has to be linked to the history and national psyche of the people, in this case the people in this region, and has to be based on “Justice”, an ideal condition of course.

    In western democracy, “the mistrust” between the state and the people is a built in factor. And because of that there are checks and balances within the system (so says Prof Diamond of Stanford) in his on line lectures on “Democracy”.

    On the other hand, the systems which prevailed in this region, evolved from the national psyche which was based on “trust” between the ruler and the ruled. And that because religion provided the reference scale of “morality” with which the common man could base his “trust” upon. It is this very factor that the Pirs are trusted by their followers in Pakistan.

    In the last 65 years, the people of Pakistan have been pushed to “mistrust” their government. The name of this exercise is “democracy”. When the media got its freedom during the “dictatorial 9 years of General Musharaf”, that too indulged in building up the “mistrust” between the state mahinery and the common man. Not their fault, the media played its role as dictated by the system – democracy – which the media was serving. That has given rise to the stress in the national psyche and which finds expression in the form of violence.

    In this election campaign – an expensive exercise and a requirement for “democracy” – even PTI, a party which wants to bring about a change, indulges in scoring points by creating a “mistrust” between the government and the people. And if the youth which follows IK gets used to this type of mudslinging and character assasination to “make their point”, what type of “Naya Pakistan” are they talking about.

    I agree with Naveed Tajamal, this western type of democracy cannot bring the peace which got lost during the 100 years of colonial rule.

    Time to wake up from this slumber.


  • Nasim  On May 7, 2013 at 1:22 am

    Very well written. I hope Pakistan develops its own kind of democratic system.

    Nasim Hassan

  • James Kuchner  On May 10, 2013 at 1:37 am

    This is like pulling teeth. The reference to the red and blue coats was obvious. What I’d like to know is: Exactly who here (in your opinion) in America are wearing wearing the red coats, and who (if any) do you believe are wearing the blue coats. Also, you still have not answered question 1. from my original inquiry. To wit: in clear, simple terms, so that even an idiot such as I can understand, explain the reforms you propose in Pakistan so that I may be enlightened as to how you intend to revamp your country’s system of economics and government on the road to evolving a Pakastani democcracy.

    • Naveed Tajammal  On May 10, 2013 at 3:08 am

      I intend to ? James Kushner, you must be joking,i have been to prison, for trying,i can only propose,now,which i have.lol About your country,well you should know better,but it seems they have all jumped in the redcoat outfit of late,the old blue coat,lot enmass’ has gone in a heavy beer- slumber.

  • Mahmood  On February 25, 2014 at 9:26 pm

    Naveed your concern for Pakistan is appreciated. Sometimes problems are too many, too deep and too widespread for even the brightest, best intended minds and plans to succeed. Pakistan is one of those cases. Every country has problems but Pakistan has way too many. There is no need to repeat them. What Pakistan as a nation lacks first and foremost is pragmatism. Instead on focusing on the problem and solutions in an objective, logical and scientific way, everything is seen through emotions, religious and dramatized. There is one thing everyone needs to understand and know. Pakistan requires about 20-30 years to heal and then start move forward. In the meantime, let’s focus on simple things. And since there are too many simple things, lets just focus one one or two. I have picked them up CLEANLINESS just randomly. I know if we succeed in just one, its repercussions will be felt in every place. Physically cleanup the country. Its something tangible. People can be held accountable and for the average citizen it is easy to understand and get involved. Cleanliness should be enforced at all levels. People might start to feel some ownership in the country. After a certain point, it will become contagion. This is how it all started in Singapore. Sorry if I sound too naive and out of touch. But I believe we need to keep things simple and practical until (possibly through a miracle or self realization of its people and politicians), we start to slowly life ourselves up from the current state of the nation

  • Mahmood  On February 25, 2014 at 9:29 pm

    Naveed / Moderator. Please cleanup my English flow as I typed in a rush. So here I become the first person needing a cleanup 🙂

  • Ajmal  On February 26, 2014 at 5:49 am

    A well thought out write up about the malaise of our existing political system. We have tried almost all types of governments and political systems but failed as we are unable to find our identity as a nation. We appear to be a crowd with our individual identities and trying to impose our own system thus providing opportunity to our evergreen and few families to adjust themselves with the tide of majority who so ever it is.

  • Mahmood  On February 26, 2014 at 5:22 pm

    Reading through the comments, I am afraid, Pakistan will have to wait for another generation to get out of this mess. None of you guys seem to have any clue, how to move the nation forward. Pragmatism and practical suggestions are totally absent. People are just going back on history and dissecting old issues and historical errors (if they were errors indeed). First and foremost in any national planning is to define some targets. Targets that are achievable and not those that are desirable. Better to focus on achievable than desirable. A country is a corporation in many ways. Those countries that are run like corporations and by CEO type of people do much better than those run by Zealots (most of you in this forum). Pakistan fully deserves where it is is today. God is always just and plays no favorites. Even Sahaba have lost battles when they did not plan properly or execute correctly.

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