Democracy has been as much a catch cry in Pakistan since the creation of it and more intensely since the despotism of Gen Ayub khan as in most other parts of the world. Whatever their grade of allegiance to it, every leader have adopted the vocabulary of democracy as a useful means of professing political legitimation and branding their jurisdiction popular. Majority of them have pointed to the existence of some forms of popular representation and ‘electoral legitimacy’ to vindicate their avow to popular sovereignty and ultimately a democratic system of governance. This absolutism has been instrumental in perpetuating a serious rift between the ruling elites and ordinary citizens, with the later bolted in a continued syndrome of alienation in correlation to public authorities. It has also dispensed the critical nexus between the domestic and international critics of regimes. The problem has produced serious consequences in terms of relations between state and society and for human development, and stems from a set of complex, reticulate factors.

Regimes in Pakistan have constantly came under domestic and external pressure, especially from the west. A close scrutiny divulges that the claim to democratic credentials have been purely rhetorical and nugatory of material assembling even the minimal criteria of democratic trustworthiness. When provoked to promote democratic reforms, a majority of leaderships have done so on a highly selective and exclusive basis, and within agenda configuration which have not substaintially affected their personal or family or elite powers. They have conveniently delineate the reforms in such a way as to produce nothing more than system that may be termed “democratic” in form but authoritarian in content.

The way forward perhaps is not to press for immediate democratization of political system, but the objective should be to prepare the conditions for good government and a civil society. Secondly the achievement of liberty could well open the way for democracy.

HIDAYAT ULLAH,

Islamabad.