Many people feel that democracy has not been given a fair chance in Pakistan by the military dictators and their foreign supporters. And some people wonder why the modern democracy has not been successful in most of the Islamic countries. Enlightened Muslims feel that Muslims should consider adopting secular and democratic principles for their countries. But religious parties are clamoring for Islamic system without defining its practical applications.
The Government can have for its aim only one objective - how to serve the people, how to devise ways and means for their welfare, for their betterment.
Our object should be peace within, and peace without. We want to live peacefully and maintain cordial friendly relations with our immediate neighbours and with the world at large.
No amount of charters, direct primaries, or short ballots will make a democracy out of an illiterate people._Walter Lippmann, 18891974
The constitution of Pakistan guarantees fundamental rights and freedom of association and a large number of political parties operate in Pakistan. Most of the leading parties are regarded, more or less, as Personality Cults and leadership is inherited as is usual in monarchies. However, the elected Politicians and their Governments failed to fulfill the aspiration of the people. Due to their misrule a culture of corruption , nepotism, intolerance, extremism and lawlessness developed revealing the truth of the following words.
Democracy substitutes election by the incompetent many for appointment by the corrupt few._George Bernard Shaw.
No amount of charters, direct primaries, or short ballots will make a democracy out of an illiterate people._Walter Lippmann (18891974), U.S. journalist, A Preface to Politics.
Democracy is merely a method for the transfer of power according to choice of the voters. However, in Pakistan hardly 50% Voters turnout at elections and complaints of massive rigging are always there during and after the polling. Accuracy of voters lists has often been questioned.
There are certain universal truths about evils of democracy as observed in US, India etc. They are described later in this paper. They have prompted me to conclude that a truly functional democracy specially in conditions such as ours, where ignorance is prevailing and ethnic prejudices are growing can work only when we spell out in Federal constitution the various additional provisions such as outlined below, for which elaborated details would have to be worked out.
L1. ocal Bodies: Pakistan should have a uniform Local Body Government system in all provinces and districts. They should be responsiible for not only municipal matter but also the law and order and development of roads etc.
2. Compulsory Free Education: Pakistan should have compulsory free education up to primary level. Adult Literacy programs be developed.
3. Uniform curriculum for Educational Institution: Pakistan should have a uniform curriculum for schools and colleges as well as Religious Schools with provision for different regional languages and religious beliefs.
4. Members of senate, National Assembly and Provincial Assemblies should confine to their primary duty of legislature and policy matters. They should not be allotted Development Fund which is a major source of corruption and inflation. And none of them should be allowed to serve as a minister.
5. The cabinet should comprise of professionally competent people preferably experts. After all for appointment of a junior officer strict qualifications are prescribed. Why not for those entrusted with passing laws and deliberating on policy matters.
6. The number of ministers should be restricted to 8 in Provincial and 6 in Federal cabinet.
7. More Provinces:Pakistan should have more provinces based on Administrative expediencies.
8. Lower Courts & Election Commission under Administrative Control of National Judicial Commission: Pakistan should have Independent Judiciary. Supreme Court and High Courts should have full administrative control on lower courts including their accountability, with laid down criteria for their selection and appointment by a Judicial commission.
9. Jirgas or Punchayat: Justice is dispensed in most rural and tribal areas by Jirgas and Punchayats in more or less one third disputes and crimes. A crash program for their training and edification be launched with the help of Muftis and Ulema. For each Union Council a Mufti and Aalim be appointed to preside over Jirga or Punchayat without prejudice to the right of the accused to appeal to higher court.
10. Appointment of Election Commission should be the responsibility of Judicial Commission and accuracy of voters list be ensured.
11. Community Policing system should be introduced, which should be accountable to District Government, which in turn be accountable to Chief Minister of the Province and powers of Rangers and Central Intelligence Agency in assisting them should be spelled out in the constitution in depth.
12. Free & Responsible Media: Pakistan should have a freed media and their freedom and code of conduct should be laid down in the constitution.
13. Tenure of Legislative Bodies: The term of legislative bodies like National Assembly, Provincial Assembly and Senate as well as federal, provincial and local body governments should be restricted to 4 years.
14. Stricter qualifications for (a) candidature of Legislative Body should be laid down (b) holding any administrative post such as mayor or deputy mayor in local body government or minister in Provincial or Federal Cabinet.
15. Stricter punishment for corruption, profiteering, tax evasion and thefts should be prescribed.
16. Only educated tax payers be eligible to contest election for legislative body. This condition may not apply for Union Council elections.
17. Direct Election of Senators and the President instead of election by national and provincial assemblies as is the practice in many countries.
An important question is that whether the concept of the adult franchise or universal suffrage is in accordance with the Islamic values. This needs to be settled by Ijtehad.
There are qualifications for voters in the Western democracy such as age, nationality etc.
The qualification of voters according to the Islamic values may not be materially different as the constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan was adopted after taking into account Islamic values and traditions. But a review of that appears to be advisable. Although the beggars, destitute, illiterate Muslims who do not know even the basics of Islam, deserve our sympathy and help, it is doubtful if their judgment in electing a competent representative can be relied upon specially as the experience has indicated that their votes are purchasable cheaply and easily. Moreover, according to some traditions, the opinions of persons of guilty of moral turpitude are to be ignored! Only by Ijtehad we can learn if this applies to voters and/or candidates!
No amount of charters, direct primaries, or short ballots will make a democracy out of an illiterate people.Walter Lippmann (18891974), U.S. journalist. A Preface to Politics, ch. 9 (1914)
The first Prime Minister of Pakistan. Liaquat Ali Khan's presented the "Objectives Resolution" that was passed by the first Constituent Assembly of Pakistan in 1949. The ideology of Pakistan is embodied in that resolution, which provides for a modern secular democratic government with laws according to Islamic ideals for social justice, freedom and equal rights to minorities as well as provisions for separate personal laws for minorities according to their own religious norms.
Bigotry, Ignorance, illiteracy, extremism and poor civic sense among the masses obscure the democratic values and prevent election of the competent candidates. That is why democracy has not been as beneficial in Asia and Muslim countries as it has been in the West.
Just as Britain is a democracy even though they have had kings and queens, Pakistan is an Islamic state with secular government. It is not a theocracy ruled by Ulema. Pakistanís judiciary included and even headed by Christian and Hindu judges. Non-Muslims also hold important posts in bureaucracy as well as the military.
Even though UK and US are regarded secular states they have blasphemy laws and some other laws stemming from Christian doctrine. In quite a few European countries denial of Holocaust is a crime. So if we ban alcohol, prostitution, gambling etc. In that way our parliament cannot be regarded as a religious order.
The belief that secular and democratic State is ideal for peace and progress needs to be corrected. Niether Secularism and democracy nor Theocracy or Monarchy or for that matter any other political system can guarantee good governance, law and order or progress and prosperity. Democracy is merely a method for the transfer of power according to popular mandate allowing maximum participation of the electorate. Everything depends upon the character and ability of the leaders elected and their policies and objectives!
Ignorance, illiteracy, etremism, bigotry and poor civic sense among the masses obscure the democratic values and prevent election of the competent candidates. That is why democracy has not been as beneficial in Asia and Muslim countries as it has been in the West.
But the West does not owe its progress and prosperity solely to secularism and democracy. It was the attitude of their people towards work, law and order, mutual cooperation, exploration, education, research and training that has contributed in over all progress in all spheres including sports, literature, leisure besides trade, industry and commerce as well as science and technology. But their material progress has not been without loss of spirituality to some extent and morality to great extent.
Many lament that in the South Asia that our rulers, politicians and bureaucrats have generally been among the most corrupt ones. Indeed the pace of progress would have been much better and our economic condition would not have been so beleaguered if we were following the principles of honesty and fair play. Corruption is rampant in many other countries. For instance in India tehlika.com rocked the nation by exposing the corruption among the rulers. Indian movies depict the wide spread corruption in their society and manipulations in elections so vividly that that makes us to believe that our champion players of the game of corruption are mere novices.
We admire the system of accountability prevalent in the West specially US and how they impeach their Presidents and other officials. Recently the bankruptcy scandals are rocking the US and the world markets. American political experts say that there will be more scandals like this, even more devastating, as many senators, congressmen and some members of the Administration allegedly received favors from the now bankrupt companies. American industrialist William Vanderbilt used to say;
When I want to buy up any politician I always find the anti-monopolists the most purchasable they donít come so high.
Feudalism has been part of the Pakistan Society for centuries. The British Raj utilized feudalism like previous rulers for their own imperial goals. After 1947, India took effective measures to empower people with land and other reforms. But in Pakistan feudal lords continue to enjoy powers like rulers of their territory and maintain private jails. In certain tribal areas they discourage education. In elections they manipulate results by foul means. Military dictators and even major political parties depend on their help and donations and in turn they are rewarded by subidies and development fund given to them in the name of people and they are not held accountable for misuse. But now voices against their brutal rule have started to be raised.
Plutocracy has been influencing politics in the West and also in South Asia. Richard Rotary, Professor of comparative literature and philosophy at Stanford University opined; "We can, of course, continue to take justified pride in being citizens of a 200-year-old constitutional democracy. Yet our country can also be described, plausibly, as a corrupt plutocracy -- a country in which money buys nomination for high office, in which the rich routinely bribe the legislatures, and in which voter apathy is on the increase." I think India is the worst plutocracy and Hindu tyranny. Besides persecution of Muslims and discrimination against them the corruption is much more rampant in India than any other democratic country.
Both India and US give lot of lip service to democracy and human rights. But when it comes to plebiscite in Kashmir as ordered by UN, they forget that. Israel's violation of human rights of Palestinians are vetoed by US when condemned by UN.
Veto power in UN is undemocratic. What ever reasons are advanced for justifying veto in UN, the Iran has much more democratic system of governance and it cannot be labeled as undemocratic on the false accusation and propaganda of rigged elections.
As one author wrote:
A truly functioning democracy requires an informed, educated and proactive citizenry. A vigilant,free and honest press and leaders with a modicum of integrity are necessary condiments to concoct this utopian brew. In America all are missing. I may add that so is the case with India.
There is a growing concern about morality in the West. Many blame MTV and popular sex symbols in the entertainment field for distorting and obscuring the social values and promoting obscenity which is prohibited in Islam, Christianity and Jewish faith also. The crime rate in the West is much higher than Islamic States. Despite spending billions on contraceptives, the number of abortions is alarmingly high.
The ratio of illegitimate births in US has jumped to almost one-third as compared to about 60 % in Scandinavian and some African countries and millions of unwed women become pregnant and resort to abortion. Teenage pregnancy is becoming a great social problem. Few Western politicians can dare to take stand against the existing moral values toward wine, gays and extra marital affairs.
Generally the Westerners have a distorted view of Islamic values. And they do not realize that the system of governance in the United States, as compared to most of the other countries in the world, is closer to the values of good governance under Islamic ideals. The attitude of Westerners toward pursuit of knowledge, research, their approach to human rights, fair play and justice and various aspects of life conform to the teachings of Islam. But their citizens enjoy more freedom than necessary for a clean and healthy society and they have shunned the values taught by the Holy Prophets Moses and Jesus. Freedom to drink alcohol, consumption of pork, night clubbing, their outlook toward sex, gays and some of their social values are looked up on with disfavor not only by Muslims but good Samaritans also. These evils are considered to be precursor of more to come.
Marmaduke Pickthall, the British scholar of Islam and translator of the Quran, had written
It was not until the Western nations broke away from their religious law that they became more tolerant, and it was only when the Muslims fell away from their religious law that they declined in tolerance.
Tolerance was regarded as irreligious in the Christian world, but was an essential part of Islam, but it is no longer credited to Muslims. Moreover, fine moral values of honesty, kindness as well as the emphasis on acquisition of knowledge are generally ignored by the Muslim majority.
While Muslims complain about the Western lack of understanding of Islam, this misconstruction in the interpretation of religious texts is unfortunately prevalent in the Muslim mind today. Few scholars like Maulana Amin Ahsan Islahi have tried to bridge the gap. His work was translated in English and published in 1977 by S. A. Rauf under the title Islamic Law Ė Concept and Codification. The foreword written by Mohammad Afzal Cheema, Judge, Supreme Court of Pakistan and an excerpt from his foreword is given below:
Realizing the harm done by a rigid approach and indiscriminate blind adherence to the juristic doctrine of only one of the famous jurists, the Maulana has strongly advocated and emphasized the need for resolving juristic diversities and conflict through a critical choice of a view in determining in a spirit of intellectual freedom its proximity to and closer harmony with the foundational principles. In this context, it would not be out of place to refer to his other book Resolution of Juristic Difference which too should be advantageously translated in English.
In Holy Quran and Sunnah we can find broad principles of good governance, justice and fair play - rather than any specific political system or method - not only for the rulers but also for those who exercise bureaucratic authority and power as well as for the politicians and members of opposition.
Study of Holy Quran and Sunnah would help our bureaucrats and aspiring rulers to evaluate the manners in which the powers and authorities are to be exercised and improve performance and conduct according to that.
Late President General Ziaul Haque had written a letter of commendation to Altaf Ahmed Kherie for his book Islam - A Comprehensive Guide Book. In that he has discussed the Islamic values for good governance in the light of the verses in Holy Quran and practices and sayings of the Holy Prophet (PBUH). As he mentions all the fundamental Human Rights, the principle of equality of human beings and Islamic brotherhood, the right to freedom of speech, expression and conscience, the guarantees of safety of life, property and honor, the right of everyone to get his just dues, the right of governance by consultations are all enshrined in the Holy Quran and Holy Prophet's sayings and his last sermon and his precepts and practice. These did not remain merely as a paper declaration but were fully implemented and acted upon by the first four rightly directed Caliphs, who performed all the functions of an Islamic State. But alas after that the concept of Caliphate was obscured by monarchy/
H. G. Wells in Outline of History';
Abu Bakr and Umar are two master figures in history of Islam. Abu Bakr's reign was short; but his achievements were momentous. His imagination and his determined leap into Syria and Iraq laid the foundations of the Arab World empire.
Umar streamlined the administration of the Islamic state and created separate departments for justice, finances, military and police.
All the four caliphs strictly observed the sanctity of governance by consultations and justice for all - including Non-Muslims equally.
It is ironical that the principles of human rights and governance through consultations as enunciated over 1, 500 years ago by the Holy Prophet Muhammed (PBUH) have been forgotten by Muslims but they have been adopted by the West in some way. The system of governance in USA appears to be based on the some of the same basic ideals as laid down in Holy Quran. Examples for good governance were not only by the Holy Prophet but also by his immediate successors - the four rightly directed caliphs (Khulfa -i- Rashidin).
In the light of different verses of Holy Quran, scholars like Altaf Ahmed Khairie and Dr. Fazlur Rehman Ansari have pointed out that the sovereignty belongs to Allah. Man is merely a vicegerent of Allah on the Earth and cannot be absolute owner possessing absolute sovereign rights. He can act only as a trustee and has to perform the duties as a ruler, in consultation with the Shura and according to the commandments of Holy Quran and as laid down in Sunnah.
a) Allah grants power and authority with the obligation and duty to act righteously for the benefit of the society. And this authority must be exercised for peace and security and to ensure justice, fair play and progress and to guard against oppression, injustice and wrong doings.
b) The role of Shura i.e. consultation to help the rulers in good governance has been part of our traditions and that paved the way of Parliament and Senate in the constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan.
c) But the qualifications of rulers and their deputies as well the voters are two major areas where conformity to Islamic ideals needs to be ensured.
The qualification for bestowing authority or eligibility for an office for public administration would appear to be knowledge (qualifications), piety, fear of Allah and unflinching faith and ability to do justice in conformity with the standards of conduct as laid down in Holy Quran and the Sunnah.
The qualification of piety would render such politicians ineligible to contest or vote if they have been convicted by a court of law of a sovereign state.
It would do well if all the politicians and bureaucrats are made to undergo a refresher course relating to Social Justice, trust and other commandments of Holy Quran as well as universally accepted norms of Good Governance and Justice.