Pakistan’s democracy


One of a kind


Technically, Pakistan is not too far from completing the second ever transition from one civilian government to another. PPP and PML-N, who stumbled through the so-called decade of democracy of the ‘90s by falling over and on themselves, have, almost, completed a term each; which means things have indeed come full circle. But scratch beneath the surface a little and all is not as settled as it seems. PPP may have peacefully handed over power to PML-N – after the ’13 general election drubbing, of course – but the party has since been destroyed. And almost a full electoral cycle later, it has not even begun rebuilding, especially in Punjab. All it has done is give Bilawal the reins – that too in the most undemocratic way possible.

The other big opposition party, PTI, seems to have a mind of its own. Not too long before the ’13 election, Imran Khan used to go on one TV channel after another, promising how the ballet, not the bullet, would change the country. Yet when the ballot brought PML-N back a third time, Khan couldn’t gulp it. And since then he’s been trying, one way or another, to unseat the sitting government. Some say he came close in the dharna days; others say he has a better chance now.

Then there is the ruling party. It promised all sorts of things on the campaign trail – from increasing the tax net to ending the power crisis, etc – but it has not achieved much save initiating high visibility mega projects like power plants and more motorways. But now, when the ruling party is overtaken by politics of survival, it is difficult to see what little, if any, attention it can pay to the people. The democracy of Pakistan, therefore, has steered way clear of people and worked around the rulers and leaders of political parties.