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Fake democrats by Abdul Quayyum Khan Kundi

Today PML N elected Nawaz Sharif as their party head. I don’t know why do we always fake a surprise and angst about such events. Nawaz Sharif is not a Democrat. Never was and never will be. He came to power through the backdoor of a military dictator and created a family-controlled party to retain that political power. For the interim period, he chose a person to be head of his party that made a public comment on the Senate floor that poor are meant to remain poor so that they can serve the elites of this country.

And who has helped him regain that party position? PPP, as well as PTI & others, whose own Chairman gained control of the party through a questionable Will of Benazir Bhutto. In other words sending a message that Benazir herself was not a democrat but promoter of family rule. They then elevated a young man to become Chairman of the second largest party in the country who can;t even manage Larkana district. Asif Ali Zardari recently announced that he knows how to rule but his expertise is not benefiting the province of Sind.

On the other hand, Imran Khan called today darkest day in the democratic history of the country. His own democratic credentials are questionable. He supported a referendum of Gen Musharraf and now gladly work as a puppet to pave the way for a technocratic government or a martial law through his politics of intransigence. His close ally Sheikh Rasheed has been openly calling for military intervention but Imran Khan never uttered a word to condemn it. Imran Khan became a spokesman for Judiciary and JIT during the Panama papers. He also took a u-turn on introducing democracy in the party when an illegitimate and unconstitutional party election was held so he could retain his fake title of Chairman and give control of his party to his investors.

Smaller parties are not much different. JUI-F, ANP, QWP, PkMAP and many other such parties are all fake democrats and then we wonder why democracy is not taking roots in the country. Almost all parties reach the parliament through on average 13% registered votes and almost all parties engaged in pre and election day rigging to win seats.

None of these parties supported real and meaningful electoral reforms that could eventually help them too. Because supporting meaningful reforms would have meant a dent in the status quo. Khawaja Asif, in Hamid Mir show, suggested that people give them mandate to enact laws like Election Bill 2017 that facilitate an individual. He was wrong and showed his mindset that he does not serve interests of the people but only his party head. Election does not mean they get blanket power. The election only appoints them as agents of the people with the fiduciary responsibility to protect rights of the people.

Election Bill 2017 does not have the support of the people of Pakistan. If PML N believes I am wrong then I challenge them to put this law up for a referendum. A bill that does not have the support of the people will further erode democracy.

What is the solution? The solution is not the installation of technocrats or imposing of martial law. The solution is also not to engage in minus three through non-political means. The solution is long-term pressure on the system through empowerment of grassroots political activists; media pressure on politician; check abuse of power through civic organizations; punish corruption through prosecution by state institutions; and pressuring ECP to implement its regulatory responsibility and penalize parties that do not introduce internal democratic practices. This requires hard work by all stakeholders of the system which no one is willing to do. There is no risk to the state or the nation from bad democracy or few corrupt politicians. The greatest risk to the state is from intervention in politics by state institutions that do not have that mandate or installing an illegitimate government that does not have a mandate from people. Supreme Court cannot grant a mandate to any government to take decisions in the name of the people.

As a nation, we exhibit two contradictory behaviors. We are impatient to see results in matters that requires patience and perseverance and we procrastinate on matters that need our immediate attention. We delayed the introduction of a constitution for 9 years after independence when it should have been our top priority. But we want the democratic tradition to become a norm in just a few years.

What Next?

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