One important factor that impacts the overall quality of democracy is the quality of democracy within the political parties. The parties are the building blocks of a democratic structure. If parties become subservient to one or a few individuals and decisions on behalf of the party are taken in an un-democratic manner without involving the decisionmaking structures within the party in any meaningful way, democratic system of the country becomes hostage to a few individuals. As a result, institutions such as parliament are robbed off their character of an effective forum of meaningful consultation and an important instrument of oversight. In essence, a democratic system without democratic political parties leads to an autocratic system under a democratic guise.
It is, therefore, important that democracy within political parties be valued and promoted. The exercise to assess the quality of democracy in major political parties in Pakistan is an effort to promote intra-party democracy.
PILDAT has earlier produced three such yearly reports (2014, 2015 and 2016) and issued monthly monitors assessing and analysing the quality of democracy within political parties and how it impacts overall quality of democracy in the country.
Key objectives of this exercise are:
1. To highlight important issues regarding intra-party democracy among the general public
2. To assess internal decision-making policies and procedures of political parties
3. To provide recommendations for effective implementation of party rules and regulations to make up for identified democratic deficits
4. The effort is not meant to point finger and discredit political parties; it is rather a citizen’s led effort to create an incentive for political parties to work for greater democracy within the parties.
This Monitor covers the duration of August 2018-August 2019 along with some recent important events relevant to the state of democracy within the major political parties of Pakistan and the extent to which parties need to be internally democratic in order to promote democracy within the wider society.
PILDAT had earlier developed a framework for assessment of quality of internal democracy in political parties of Pakistan. Using that framework and holding consultations with key persons knowledgeable on the subject, this Monitor has been compiled. This Monitor will serve as a backgrounder for a Roundtable Conference being organised on the subject.
PILDAT earlier underwent a process to identify major political parties of Pakistan for the purpose of the first study that it conducted on the subject of internal democracy in 2014. Since a study of this kind can be undertaken for a limited number of parties keeping in mind the resources available for the study and its practical utility, the number of parties to be studied was originally kept at 5. Political parties with the highest representation in the National Assembly were therefore chosen and these included Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, Pakistan Peoples Party, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan and Jamiat Ulema Islam-Fazl. Later three other parties were added, each for its peculiar reasons. The Awami National Party was added as it was primarily a Khyber Pakhtunkhwa-based political party; National Party was added because of its Balochistan origin and Jamaat-e-Islami was added because of its unique system of membership and election. Thus, eventually, eight political parties were included in the study and those eight have been covered in this Monitor as well.