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Consolidating democracy in Pakistan — I

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13.06.2018

Farewell to the departed Pakistan Muslim League-Noon (PML-N) government. This is a historic moment for Pakistan as we are witnessing a democratic transition from one elected government to another.

However, this is also a moment of reflection for us in Pakistan as this will only be the second time that Pakistan will complete a transition from one democratically elected government to another.

Two transitions in 70 years of history — one is accomplished and the second one is still underway. We could have achieved as many as 12 to 14 transitions during this period, and this shows a troubling picture for the state of democracy in Pakistan.

How did we end up in this situation and can we consolidate democracy in Pakistan? A lot of ink has been spilled in examining the factors that have played their roles in hampering the growth of democracy in Pakistan. It would be very appropriate here to briefly shed some light on these factors before laying down a plan to consolidate the democratic progress.

In order to look at the lingering progression of democracy in Pakistan, one has to examine a multitude of internal and external variables that are potentially in play. The first and foremost and arguably the most salient one with which all of the other factors are linked is the military.

There has been an almost unanimous consensus among all international observers and scholars of South Asia that the perpetual role of the military in politics — even when there are apparently democratic regimes in place — has hindered Pakistan’s evolution into a thriving democratic polity.

The never-ending cat and mouse game between the generals and politicians has earned Pakistan’s democracy many names, including ‘flawed’, ‘illiberal’, ‘checkered’, ‘controlled’, as well as ‘tutelary’ democracy — a title that Abbas Nasir, a renowned columnist,........

© Daily Times