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> Poor Governance is the Greatest Threat to Democracy in Pakistan: PILDAT
Identifies 5 Major Threats and 5 enabling factors for Democracy on the International Democracy Day

   
 

September 15, 2009
Islamabad

   

Islamabad, September 15: PILDAT has identified 5 major potential threats to democracy in Pakistan on the International Democracy Day, September 15. Lack of Good Governance and Rule of Law; a historically weak understanding of the significance of continuing democratic process on the part of the Armed Forces, Lack of Internal Democracy in Political Parties; Ineffective Parliament and Role of Big Money in Politics are 5 major potential threats that can hamper the growth and stability of democracy in Pakistan. Political parties, Government and the media need to focus on these challenges in order to strengthen democracy in Pakistan.

 
 

PILDAT also noted 5 major enabling factors which have the potential to sustain and deepen democracy in Pakistan. These include an Independent and Assertive Judiciary, a Free and Diverse Media, Unhindered Freedom of Association, a Newly-formed Public Consensus against Extremism and Terrorism and a Renewed Confidence among the Citizens following the success of the Movement for the Restoration of Judiciary.

 
 

PILDAT believes that Poor Governance is the greatest threat to Democracy in Pakistan. PILDAT, which is a leading independent political think tank, has said that the only route available for Pakistanís prosperity is sustainable democracy. However, democracy should lead to good governance in the country, without which it will create disillusionment among masses and provide a handy excuse to subvert democracy. Good Governance is the best guarantee of continuity and survival of any democratic government.

 
 

For democracy to deliver its dividends to the people, it must first establish a rule of law for every citizen, in an un-mutilated Constitution, that prevails over the rule of force in Pakistan. PILDAT lauded the spirit of political tolerance and dialogue espoused by the current political government and stressed that this spirit should be channelled effectively for a speedy redressal of issues such as Balochistan.

 
 

Political parties, whether in power or not, need to strengthen the practice of internal democracy as vital deterrent to non-democratic intervention. Autocratic culture in most political parties not only hampers the growth of political parties as the strongest pillars of representative democracy, it is a deterrent for the youth of the country to participate in politics to their full potential. Authoritarian and oligarchic tendencies in leadership of various political parties do not serve the cause of strengthening democracy in Pakistan.

 
 

For an effective and functional democracy, Parliamentís supremacy has to be established by its own actions and contributions. While the legislative performance of the National Assembly during the past year leaves much to be desired, Parliament must focus on legislating on Electoral Reforms including State-funding of Political Parties; Repeal of undemocratic features arbitrarily imposed on the Constitution; Open the Parliamentary Debates and Committees; Effectively Oversee Defence and Intelligence Sectors and Improve Budget Process, etc.

 
 

The role of big money in politics is the biggest deterrence against the inclusion and participation of middle class and average citizens of the country in the political process of Pakistan. Big spending during election invariably leads to corruption among the top echelons of political leadership. An urgent reform and an effective implementation of existing laws of the land to curb the role of money in politics are essential to make democracy broad-based and inclusive.

 
 

A sustained civil-military dialogue is essential to enhance the understanding among both civil and military sides that impatience with flawed democratic governments does not eventually lead to good governance. Subversion of democratic regimes leads to illegitimate governments which leave institutions of governance in a worse-off situation making the task of strengthening democratic institutions more arduous. Armed forces should strictly curb any interference by their intelligence agencies in the political process of the country as has been the case in the past. Only the continuation of democratic process, accountability at the free and fair polls and a credible accountability process have the potential to eliminate the governance flaws with the passage of time.

 
 

PILDAT is a premier research organization of Pakistan focusing on democracy, governance and public policy. It is an independent, indigenous, non-partisan and non-profit think-tank founded in 2001. PILDAT conducts research on issues including finance, economy, poverty-reduction, regional/international trade, foreign/regional relations, political-economy, inter-provincial relations/federalism, women/youth in politics, etc. PILDAT prepares legislative Briefs on key legislations in consideration before Parliament. PILDAT has held over 200 capacity-building and issue-based briefings for Parliament/Provincial Assemblies. PILDAT provides forums for comparative political and parliamentary learning. PILDAT carries out performance review of Parliament/Provincial Assemblies. We facilitate formation of policy groups for research and dialogue on issues including Civil-Military Relations, Electoral Reforms, Relations between Muslims and Western World, FATA Status, Centre-Province Relations, etc. PILDAT also launched the first-ever Youth Parliament of Pakistan to inculcate culture and values of democracy in youth and to prepare them for future leadership roles.