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Democracy Trying to Resurface in Pakistan
|by Rahul Mukand|
After the election verdict came out in open situation became clear who would form the next government. PPP, PML-N would form the new coalition government. Situation changed at faster pace in Pakistan, but why? Was it due to people's revolution in Pakistan? Answer is negative. This question can be answered if we understand lawyer's movement which started campaign for establishing a just society one year back, when General Musharraf had dismissed Chief Justice Iftikar Chaudhary. This led to spiraling protests and strengthening of lawyer's movements day by day. Did lawyer's movement turn into a people's movement? The answer is affirmative.
After the intervention of military in civilian administration reached saturation, the need was felt for transition; only system to be relied on was democracy. Democracy was hidden in garb of terrorism and military authoritarian rule. As many observers had started to think of Pakistan being a failed state with its disintegration evitable, they probably did not realize the power of civil society which was slowly building momentum for bringing a metamorphic change in Pakistan. This was depicted in elections which were largely free and fair after massive bloodshed and assassination of vital leader Benazir Bhutto. Democracy did not come easy for Pakistan, it came through a process of struggle and hardships, and finally a historic opportunity heralded the Pakistan political history when two arch rival parties came together to sit down and form a coalition government. They kept past differences on backburner and worked together for a common goal i.e. establishment of democracy. PPP and PML-N signed the declaration in which it was agreed that the PML-N would be part of new Federal cabinet, while PPP would be the part of the Punjab government. Both the partners' reiterated resolve to restore the deposed judges as it was on 2 November 2007, within thirty days of formation of the federal government. It was agreed that speaker and deputy speaker of the National Assembly shall be from the PPP, while the speaker and deputy speaker for the Punjab assembly shall be from the PML-N.
Pakistan experts feel this coalition would not work for more than six months or one year, but before arriving to the conclusion we have to understand the bloodshed, struggle which Pakistan experienced in last nine years of Military dictatorship led by Musharraf. After he doffed his uniform there was glimmer of hope for democracy to regain its control. International support for Musharraf may exist, but a democratic system which is trying to evolve in Pakistan can be understood in context of Aristotle cyclic theory of forms of government1 where the perverted form of government Military dictatorship gave way to perfect form of government i.e. democracy. It may be tough to encapsulate Aristotle ideas in present context, but we find traces of theory he proposed in those times which gave more preference to monarchy.
Lawyer's movement provided the stimulus and ammunition to the democratic forces in All Parties Democratic Movement which earlier constituted PPP, PML-N to come to center stage and bring 1973 Pakistan constitution solution to ills of Pakistan. Even though, PPP tried to broker deal with Musharraf, but received a big jolt after the assassination of Benazir in fag end of the year.
Revolution was not needed to overthrow the military chief, rather pressures from lawyers and media was seen by people as a movement of good people with no political ambition. Judiciary was trying to elevate to a level where it could dispense justice as envisaged in the Constitution. The reinstated chief justice had aligned the people with him already with his 'suo moto' activism focused on hundreds of 'disappeared' individuals in the country, victims of the unaccountability of the Musharraf executive. Dynamism of democracy was reinvigorated by lawyer's movement which gave pragmatism to the political parties to not miss the election bus. Judiciary acted as a catalyst for democracy to resurface in Pakistan. Judiciary has become a lobby and pressure group. After elections elected parliament would be constituted so in that case, judiciary has to change its earlier avatar.
Skeptics may not agree with current situation in Pakistan, one point which cannot be ignored is revival of democratic forces in Pakistan and retreat of military from civilian administrative positions. Pakistan has undergone a transition certainly; it depends on political leadership to not loose this historic opportunity again in the hands of military. Politicians need to act wisely and establish institutional structures in Pakistan. Discourage military interference in civilian affairs and contain the ISI, build harmonious relations between President and organs of government. We could really see pigmy looking democracy enveloping Pakistan.
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