Steven Levitski, a well-known comparative political scientist, argues that many contemporary regimes are hybrid regimes. They are neither democracies nor full time authoritarian regimes. These regimes are combined with democratic rules and authoritarian governments. Levitski (2002) believes that a modern democratic regime has these four following traits:

(1)   Selection of executive and legislature through election.

(2)   Virtually all adults posses the right to vote.

(3)   Political rights and civil liberties including freedom of the press, freedom of association, and freedom to criticize the government without reprisal, are broadly protected.

(4)   Political representatives has real authority to govern.

He believes that those regimes which do not full fill aforementioned criteria are not democracies. They are hybrid regimes and one such hybrid regime is “Competitive Authoritarianism”, in which formal democratic institutions are widely viewed as the principal means of obtaining and exercising political authority. Incumbents violate those rules so often and to such an extent, however, that the regime fails to meet conventional minimum standards for democracy.

In a Competitive Authoritarian regime, elections are held regularly but not free and fair. Media is controlled by the state. Opposition parties are given less coverage as compare to government parties. Opposition members are harassed through legal measures and often forced to change their loyalty in favor of government party. Although governments are changed through peaceful means, the state lacks aforementioned traits of a modern democratic regime. Journalists, opposition politicians, and other government critics may be spied on, threatened, harassed, or arrested. Members of the opposition may be jailed, exiled, or less frequently even assaulted or murdered. Regimes characterized by such abuses cannot be called democratic.

In this article, I’ll look to consider Pakistan’s case after the exit of General Musharraf and whether it is a full-time democratic regime or a competitive authoritarian one.

General Musharraf resigned from the office on August 18, 2008. After his resignation, it was widely believed that Pakistan had entered into the phase of democratic regime. Though it is true that 13th National Assembly completed its term of five years and transition came through elections held in May 2013. The president has also completed his full tenure of five years. Civil-military relations are not as tense as it used to be in the decade of 90s.

If we look into the aforementioned criteria of modern democratic regime, we see that even though elections were held in 2013, but they were not free and fair. Almost all the political parties raised their voices against inconsistencies, rigging and manipulation of electoral results. An opposition party started a strong social movement to put pressure on government to initiate judicial inquiry of the 2013 election. Later, a Judicial Commission was made to probe the matter which gave its verdict in favor of status quo.

During this period after General Musharraf, Pakistan made fine progress regarding preparation of electoral lists. For the first time in history, electoral lists were prepared with the help of National Database and Regulatory Authority (NADRA). More than 20 million new voters were registered in the voters’ lists. Pictures of all the voters were also made compulsory on electoral lists.

In modern democratic countries citizens have constitutional right to assemble, demonstrate and criticize the government. As far as civil liberties and political rights are concerned in Pakistan, during this era few incidents showed that we are still far behind modern democratic regimes. One such incident is the July 17, 2014 massacre on the headquarter of Tehrik-e-Minhaaj Ul Quran (TMQ) when Punjab Police stormed into the headquarter and killed more than dozen TMQs activists and wounded many. TMQ was going to plan anti-government movement and this act was done to harass the party workers. This brutal action showed that state itself violated constitutional rights of the people.

The fourth and last trait of modern democracy is that political representatives have the real authority to govern. Throughout Pakistan’s political history, civil military relations have remained problematic. Military planned three successful coups to dislodge civilian governments. In “democratic” periods, military and bureaucracy hold the real power while civilian leadership has been helpless to restrain them. Still, after the exit of General Musharraf, the situation remained the same. The civilian leadership is under constant check of the military establishment. Civilian leaders have to satisfy military generals on important matters before taking the decisions. Army’s input is given more weightage now after the start of National Action Plan to uproot militancy and terrorism.

Keeping in view Levitsky’s four traits of modern democracy, Pakistan does not qualify to be a modern democratic regime. Instead, Pakistan fits into the category of “Competitive Authoritarian Regime”. Throughout this era, massive use of state authority is seen in both general and local bodies’ elections. Electoral results were manipulated and often claimed as engineered. Civil liberties and political rights were not ensured and many complaints were seen in this era regarding killing and harassment of political workers. Civil military relations are still not settled and political representatives doesn’t have real power to govern. So, keeping in view Levitsky’s scholarship, I conclude that currently Pakistan is a competitive authoritarian regime instead of a democracy.