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Getting democracy right

Getting democracy right

by Saad Hafiz John Adams, the US’s second president, once pronounced: “Democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide.” He was clearly wrong. Democracy remains the most powerful and successful political idea — the great victor of the ideological clashes of the 20th century — embraced more pervasively than ever before in the world today. It should be an imperative therefore to shield … Read entire article »

Filed under: Army, Citizens, Constitution, Corruption, Democracy, Egalitarian Pakistan, Europe, History, human rights, liberal Pakistan, Pakistan, Revolution

Our misplaced faith in shortcuts

Our misplaced faith in shortcuts

By Jamal Malik I was about 14 when the ‘Marde Momin, Marde Haq’, General Zia ul Haq toppled Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto’s government and imposed Martial Law in the country. It was 4th April 1979, when I came out of the examination hall of Abbottabad Public School, after taking my Matric Islamiat exam that my friends and I heard that Z. A. Bhutto had been hanged. Most of my friends were Bhutto sympathizers and it was an … Read entire article »

Filed under: Army, Constitution, Corruption, Democracy, Economy, Egalitarian Pakistan, human rights, journalism, Judiciary, minorities, Opinion, Pak Tea House, Pakistan, Parliament, Politics, Religion, Revolution

Once upon a time there was Pakistan

Once upon a time there was Pakistan

By Shahzada Muhammad Ali Problems? Poverty, lawlessness, inflation, nepotism, robbery, forgery, money laundering, smuggling, land grabbing, extortion, drug trafficking, corruption, black marketing, political violence, abduction are just a few. Earthquakes and floods add to the flavor of it. PPP is a great opposition indeed. Zardari is on incognito mode. Altaf Bhai is a blessing already. Maulana Tahir-ul-Qadri likes playing his agonizing game of hide and seek. But let’s talk about the two giants, PML-N and PTI, … Read entire article »

Filed under: Army, Constitution, Democracy, Elections, History, journalism, Justice, Lahore, Media, movements, Revolution, violence

Servants, not masters

by Saad Hafiz In the aftermath to the country’s independence, Mr Jinnah clearly articulated the role of the military: “Do not forget that the armed forces are the servants of the people. You do not make national policy; it is we, the civilians, who decide these issues and it is your duty to carry out these tasks with which you are entrusted.” Other than large-size pictures of the founding father that adorn military institutions, Mr Jinnah’s unambiguous view on civil-military relations was soon buried like the rest of his legacy, to the country’s detriment. With Mr Jinnah’s passing, the military swiftly suborned the political apparatus, becoming the driving force behind the country’s politics, ideology and destiny. It saw fit to manipulate civilian politicians, manage civilian institutions, and invest in a military economy … Read entire article »

Filed under: Democracy, Egalitarian Pakistan, human rights, Jinnah, Liberal Democratic Pakistan, Politics, public policy, Society

Democracy and religion

By Saad Hafiz The theological ethicist Reinhold Niebuhr summed up his arguments on democracy and religion in two powerful sentences: 1) “Man’s capacity for justice makes democracy possible; but man’s inclination to injustice makes democracy necessary” and 2) “Religion is so frequently a source of confusion in political life, and so frequently dangerous to democracy, precisely because it introduces absolutes into the realm of relative values.” Taking heed of Niebuhr’s concerns, modern secular, mostly western liberal democracies have tended to exclude religious considerations from civil affairs or public education.  These societies actively foster democratic traditions and institutions and discourage strident religious dogma.  Secular institutions ensure equality under the law, human rights, freedom of expression and respect for all religious beliefs.  In the political sphere, a tradition of free and fair elections encourages politicians and … Read entire article »

Filed under: Democracy, Education, History, Islam, Pakistan, Religion, Rights

AAP & Not PTI:The power of democracy!

Ahmer Muzammil I am not fascinated or infatuated with India, like some of our Indian readers and mostly for the wrong reasons I might add. I do however acknowledge that it is the land of my forefathers and at a macro level, I am impressed with their dedication to and insistence on democracy. I am under no illusion that indian society is without ills or that democracy has solved all of their issues But compared to Pakistan, they look like rock stars. Compared to Pakistan however, young men and women -some who were wronged and mostly those who are uneducated, impressionable and indoctrinated – aren’t blowing themselves up in cinemas, bazars and places of worship, killing their fellow innocent citizens in cold blood, and to me that alone is a winner every … Read entire article »

Filed under: Politics

Polarization, lack of deliberation and changing the status quo

by Hussain Bokhari Pakistani society is as polarized as it has ever been. The country is coming apart at the seams due to schisms across political, ideological, ethnic, religious, and social dimensions. Political parties that are either inept or unwilling to ask the right questions to address the issues affecting the masses (as indicated by a 2013 British Council survey in which 69% of Pakistanis have an unfavorable view of political parties); increasingly misinformed ideological viewpoints among ‘conservatives’ and ‘liberals’ (as illustrated by the general lack of awareness on both sides about what either ideology really advocates); continued penchant for viewing ourselves and our issues across ethnic lines rather than as a nation (as evidenced by the existence of political parties with ethnic agendas and their success across ethnic lines); existence … Read entire article »

Filed under: public policy

Democracy, policy and the absentee public

By Hussain Bokhari   Pakistan has now been independent for over 67 years. During this time, the country has been subjected to Military law for over 32 years. The remaining 35 years of democratic rule have not exactly been the most effective in terms of progress and serving the needs of the common Pakistani. This has unfortunately been perceived to be the failure of democracy as a political system rather than the ineptness of the few who have been at the helm. According to a recent British Council survey, only 29% of Pakistanis between the age of 18-29 believe democracy is the best political system for Pakistan, and 94% of people in that age group believe the country is headed in the wrong direction.     It is easy to attribute the failures of our attempts at … Read entire article »

Filed under: Democracy, Pakistan

Political parties and elections

by Saad Hafiz Pakistan’s historic path has been ridden by intrigue, strife and bloodshed overseen by power-hungry generals and money grubbing politicians. The chaos in the country also proves that a common religious identity is not a guarantee of stability, security, democracy and free elections. Past elections have not been able to foster a feeling of common destiny. Some elections were so widely and flagrantly rigged that civil rebellion broke out requiring the army to be called in, thus exposing the weakness of political leadership in the country. The army simply shoved the political leadership aside through a coup d’état when it realised that political power depended on it. The Pakistani electorate has an opportunity this week to reverse the country’s anti-democratic legacy. The people can choose the political parties that … Read entire article »

Filed under: Elections, Liberal Democratic Pakistan

West, Democracy and Minorities: What can We Learn?

Raza Habib Raja I remember in 2006 when during the midterm elections, Democrats and Republicans were fighting for the control of Senate. Although the popularity of George W Bush was waning due to a host of factors such as Iraq war and the Katrina Hurricane mismanagement, but it was still a very close fight. In USA, some seats are considered solid Republicans and some are solid Democrats. Who controls the Senate is eventually decided in what are known as “toss up” constituencies. One of the presumably “solid” republican seats was of Senator George Allen of Virginia. As the campaign drew to a close, a controversy stirred up which ultimately led to George Allen’s defeat by a few thousand votes. The controversy erupted because in one of the speeches, Senator which at that … Read entire article »

Filed under: Uncategorized

Ham Kis Gali Ja Rahay Hain-II

Ham Kis Gali Ja Rahay Hain-II

by Abdul Majeed Yesterday, Mr. Shahid Ali wrote an article on his views about Democracy and focused on the example of India. I just have one thing to say about his view, “Democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried”. I have tried to take a look at our own backyard before pointing fingers elsewhere.   … Read entire article »

Filed under: Uncategorized

India, Pakistan and Democracy

Raza Habib Raja Professor Philip Oldenburg is a professor of political science in Columbia University and author of the book titled, “India, Pakistan, and Democracy: Solving the Puzzle of Divergent Paths”. As an academic, South Asia has been his prime area of political research. A few months ago, he was invited to Cornell University where I was privileged to hear his views on a very interesting topic which was why India and Pakistan despite being apparently similar in history and culture have taken divergent paths as far as democracy and role of military are concerned. First of all Professor Philip made an interesting statement that India’s successful evolution as a democracy is not a “normal” phenomenon but rather an exception whereas Pakistan has evolved the way most of the third world countries … Read entire article »

Filed under: Uncategorized

“Blaming politicians alone for tarnishing democracy is actually less than half the story”- Benazir Bhutto’s interview to Herald (2000)

“Tomorrow they may decide to kill me because I know too much. But I want this on record so that one day, 10 years from now, 20 years from now, somebody goes back and says: What was happening in Quaid-e-Azam’s Pakistan?” Nearly twelve years ago monthly Herald published this interview of Benazir Bhutto (taken by Ali Dayan Hasan). This is perhaps the most revealing interview that BB gave to a local publication. In the context of … Read entire article »

Filed under: Benazir Bhutto

Outside in

Outside in

The Ideal State By Shahbaz Ali Khan Shahbaz, a former Industry relations and PR professional, has spent the past 8 years experimenting with the frontiers of professional competence by insisting on not specializing in anything but thinking, communicating and writing.   ____________________________________________________________________________ On the eve of Salman Taseer’s first death anniversary, it falls upon us to recognize a deep malaise within our collective psyches. Preemptively, let me categorically state that the following is not an article on Pakistan’s general … Read entire article »

Filed under: Opinion

The story of PPP – 1967-2011

Riaz Ali Toori, an active member of the Pakistan People’s Party, remembers its evolution, challenges and successes We are celebrating the 45th Foundation Day of Pakistan Peoples Party through the auspices of which, proper democracy and constitution got introduced first time in Pakistan. From 1947 to 1973 we had failed to formulate an effective constitution but PPP managed it within a couple of years after taking power. We knew Democracy by its name but were unable to see its application for two and a half decades. The charismatic leader Z A Bhutto Shaheed ushered in democracy and gave us a constitution that is even now “Centre of Unity and Sovereignty” and equally sacred to all political parties and provinces. Even today PPP is strengthening democracy through policy of reconciliation under the farsighted … Read entire article »

Filed under: Uncategorized