Spokesman to the Prime Minister of Pakistan, Nadeem Afzal Chan said in order to strengthen the democratic system in the country, the politicians need to be role models for the public. Otherwise there cannot be any ideal democracy. He said today’s democracy is in much better shape as compare to the past, where the debate is now diverted towards the quality of the democracy rather dictatorship versus democracy.
While addressing a seminar titled “Continuation of Democratic Governments: Opportunities and Challenges” organized by the Sustainable development Policy Institute (SDPI), Nadeem Afzal said though, there is no ideal democracy in Pakistan, but there should be no difference in our words and actions. We are intellectually corrupt society, where our intellectuals and thought leaders are not honest with their professions, he lamented.
Nadeem Afzal said that it is the whole political class which is victim as well as reason behind today’s chaos in the democratic system. He said all the political parties are responsible for the poor state of the democratic system in the country. It is the ‘elite class’ which is the beneficiary of the system and, unfortunately, this elite class do not represent any political party, despite having presence and stakes in every political party. Today’s politics has become a corporate politics, where money matters a lot and the elite in the political parties do not allow the new faces and intellectual young mind to come forward, he observed.
While denying any curb on the freedom of media, he said the media always remained under pressure from the elite of the society, as this media cannot report on the scandals of Bahria Town, Mansha Groups and other elite of the society.
Chaudhry Manzoor Ahmed, Senior Leader, Pakistan People’s Party Parliamentarian (PPPP) said it is the responsibility of every political party and institution to run the democratic system smoothly. He said that the dilemma of this country is that the state has expanded a lot from the top, whereas, the ground institutions, including trade and student unions, become weaken over time, which should be revived. From the very beginning, Political parties were broken and destroyed and new parties were established overnight, which weaken the democratic system. Election system has become redundant, which require deep structural reforms with the consensus of all political parties, he added.
He said role of the establishment in the politics has increased overtime, whereas, other institutions including judiciary, bureaucracy and media, started interfering in other’s work instead of staying in their constitutional limits. He said it is about time that we should all openly debate the role and constitutional limits of these institutions. Despite shortcoming in the system, the democratic process should be continued, he remarked.
Dr Abid Qaiyum Suleri, Executive Director, SDPI said 25th July marked first anniversary of July 2018 elections, where ruling party celebrated the day as ‘Thanksgiving Day’ and opposition marked the day as ‘Black Day’, whereas, ‘Grey Area’ in between remained mired, which was ignore in our politically polarize society. While analyzing the last one year performance of the incumbent government, he said that the performance on economic and foreign policy dimensions remained on track, whereas, performance in the social sector remained below average, where government needs to do some extra work to metalize its social uplift plans. On foreign policy front, Dr Abid suggested to strengthen ties with European Union (EU), which will help Pakistan in addressing the international issues such as FATF.
While analyzing the performance of the opposition in last one year, he said that in parliamentary democracy, opposition is government in waiting. He said that overall performance of the opposition was below the mark, where the opposition was largely failed to have shadow cabinet to provide solutions to the challenges on economic and social front.
Romina Khursheed Alam, Vice President, Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PMLN) said the current government even after so many non-elected members in the cabinet could not tackle the challenges of the country. She said this government has become spokesperson of every institution and make every single institution controversial. In last one year, this government did the politics of avenges, witch hunting on the name of accountability and mudslinging. This government is taking steps to pressurize the media and muting the dissent voices, she lamented.
Mr. Zahid Hussain, Senior Independent Analyst said though this third democratic transition was a positive step, but political polarization has become serious in the last one year. He said when politician criticize the parliament and electoral process, it weaken the system instead strengthening the democracy. The single big challenge in front of this government was economy, but PTI led government was not prepared, where Asad Umar run the economy like Engro and Imran Khan run the country like Shaukat Khanam Hospital.
He said that the basic of the democracy was strengthening the institutions, which unfortunately, being weakens in the first year of this government. He said the democratic space has squeeze over the last one year, where media today is under worse censorship. This government t is moving towards authoritarianism, where the government wanted the absolute power, he lamented, adding that there is no governance and no policy direction.