Democracy in Pakistan has been a topic of debate for several years and yet there is little consensus on whether democracy or dictatorship is in the best interest of Pakistan. The question is how is democracy defined and whether Pakistan was ever a democratic State? This needs to be determined before arguing on which type of political system would be better for the country.
First and foremost the pre-requisite of democracy is free and fair elections but little evidence is found to support the argument that the electoral process in Pakistan is fair. Votes could be bought by political parties for as cheap as Rs 10. Another practice which is common in the elections is of rigging and it does not allow the votes to be casted in a proper manner. In Pakistan a major crux of the population and the political parties and leaders support a democratic system of government. Any attempts to harm democracy in the country are treated with strong resentment from both the ruling party and the opposition. Despite all these facts it is believed that in Pakistan a democracy could never survive for long due to the incompetent people in the helm of affairs in the so called democratic system. When these democrats fail to run the affairs of the country, the military decides to take over and this has pretty much been the case since 1947. Various examples of military rulers in the country include Ayub Khan, Zia-ul-Haq and Pervez Musharaff.
There are various problems associated with Pakistan’s democracy which does not allow it to be a successful form of government like it has been in the neighboring country India. A major reason for the failure of democracy is the amount of institutional imbalance in the country. Since independence the military and intelligence agencies were organized and developed while the democratic and political institutions were weak and vulnerable. This imbalance has always fortified bureaucracy and dictatorial governance. Secondly there has always been problem with Pakistani politicians in reaching a consensus on various policy issues. When policy matters are continuously debated in the parliament, it does not allow a democratic government to settle down and acts as a barrier for it to flourish.
Moreover, the type of leaders and political parties also determines how successful a democracy would be. For years the same political parties have stayed in power with the same bunch of supporters. They follow their old policies and do not realize the fact that there policies should evolve and change with time. For example the Pakistan Peoples Party founded by Mr Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto came into power a number of times and despite its failures it was elected again. The reason for this is that the supporters continue supporting the party because of their affection for the founder of the party and they do not care about the fact whether the current leader is competent or not.
There is no doubt that democracy is a generally acceptable way of going about the affairs of a country, however it is essential that the democracy fulfills the requirements of a true democracy which ensures complete freedom for people and fair elections. When competent people will be ruling the country then everyone including the military would be satisfied by the democratic rule.