The evolution of the democratic system in Pakistan is a dynamic and complex journey that has seen the nation transition through various stages of governance since its inception in 1947. Shaped by a myriad of historical, political, and social factors, Pakistan’s democratic trajectory has been marked by periods of civilian rule, military intervention, constitutional amendments, and challenges to the rule of law. This article delves into the rich tapestry of Pakistan’s democratic history, tracing the path from its early years to its contemporary state, highlighting key milestones and significant events that have contributed to the nation’s ongoing pursuit of a stable and vibrant democracy. So lets discuss the evolution of democratic system in Pakistan.
Introduction of Democratic System in Pakistan
Evolution of democratic system in Pakistan has seen many ups and downs. In our history of almost 75 years, democratic system has remained for half of the time.
In the remaining half, there remained dictatorship. There have been four phases of democracy and four phases of dictatorship. It has been facing multidimensional challenges.
Democratic system is considered as the best system worldwide. Out of 200 states 167 are democratic. It is a system that is based on the will of the people through the electoral process. Democracy is defined as the government of the people, for the people and by the people.
DS is a product of free and fair elections, accountable and transparent, having judicial independence, rule of law, intra party elections and free media. In the democratic system of Pakistan elections have remained controversial, Allegations of corruptions on politician, Involvement of military in Politics
Judiciary had remained subservient in the past, Political parties remained personality dominated, having no intra party elections.
Media has never been independent. In the recent past democracy has strengthened. In 2013 elections were relatively fair although controversial.
For the first time in history, the transfer of power from one civilian government to another.
During the PML(N) 5 years, DS has withstood crises such as sit-in and panama etc. Despite these, PML(N) completed 5 years.
Elections of 2018 were equally controversial. These were fair for some and unfair for many. For the second time power has been transferred from one civilian government to another. The opposition called the PTI Prime Ministry as “selected”.
The government of PDM is declared as an “imported government”.
Features of Democratic System of Pakistan
Here are the various features of democratic system of Pakistan:
- Federal System
- Parliamentary System
- Islamic System
- Military-Bureaucratic Oligarchy
- Multiple Party System
- Personality dominated Political Parties
- Lack of Accountability
1. Federal System
- The Federal System is two sets of government and constitution distributing powers
between the two.
- One is the central government and the other provincial governments.
- Three lists of powers — Federal, Provincial, Concurrent lists and residuary powers.
- All four constitutions have a Federal System.
- In the 1973 Constitution there were two lists and residuary vested with Provinces.
- Currently there is one list.
2. Parliamentary System
- Parliamentary System is one in which the Executive is originating from the legislature, there is coordination between the two and the executive is responsible to the legislature.
- In the Presidential system, the executive is directly elected, the two are separate and the executive is not responsible to the legislature.
- Out of four constitutions, three are parliamentary and one is presidential.
3. Islamic System
- Islamic System is based on the teaching of Islam.
- Pakistan was created on the basis of Islamic Ideology.
- Objective Resolution contains Sovereignty of Allah.
- The name of Pakistan is Islamic Republic, the President should be Muslim, Council of Islamic Ideology. Islam as a state religion.
4. Military-Bureaucratic Oligarchy
- Military-Bureaucratic Oligarchy — also known as the Establishment.
- Three components — the top brass of Army and Bureaucracy and ISI.
- It originated in 1954 with Iskandar Mirza, Ghulam Muhammad and Ayub Khan at the helm.
- Sidelining politicians and managing affairs directly and indirectly.
5. Multiple Party System
- Multiple Party System having more than two parties.
- Other systems are one party (Russia and China and two party (US and UK)
- MPS exists mostly in developing countries.
- The other two are stable and MPS is unstable as the governments are mostly coalitional governments.
6. Personality Dominated Political Parties
- Personality Dominated Political Parties exist in Pakistan.
- It is due to lack of intra-party elections in the real sense of the word.
- Weakness of democratic system is due to the weak party structure.
- Party heads are responsible for this due to their selfish interest.
7. Lack of Accountability
- Lack of Accountability. It means responsibility which is nonexistent in Pakistan.
- NAB created under the NAB Ordinance, 1999.
- NAB is being used for political victimization.
- Accountability for two things — one is act of omission and the other is act of commission.
- One is not to perform its duty and the other is to ignore the rules and regulations.
Phases of Evolution 1947-2022
There are four phases of evolution of democratic system in Pakistan:
- Initial Democratic Phase (1947-1958)
- Socialist Democratic Phase (1972-1977)
- Unstable Democratic Phase (1988-1999)
- Recent Democratic Phase (2008-2022)
1. Initial Democratic Phase (1947-1958)
- Early problems
- Delay in constitution making
- Failure of Political leaders
- Absence of elections
- Rise of bureaucracy
- Involvement of Military
- The constitution of 1956
- Political instability
2. Socialist Democratic Phase (1972-77)
- Prior to this phase, two military interventions
- Ayub Khan- Abrogation, BD System, 1962
- Yahya Khan-Abrogation,1970 Elections & tragedy
- ZAB as President and PM
- Constitution of 1973-Article 6
- Elections of 1977 — Allegedly rigged
2.1 Military Phase (1977-85)
Suspension of Constitution of 1973
- Islamization and involvement in Afghan Conflict
- Movement for Restoration of Democracy (MRD)
- Non-Party based elections 1985
- Revival of Constitution and 8th Amendment
- “Advice” replaced “discretion” & 58(2)b
4. Unstable Democratic Phase
58(2)b was exercised four times during 88-96:
- Zia removed PM Junajo in 1988 and elections were held, BB became PM
- BB removed by GIK in 1990 and elections were held, and NS became PM
- NS removed by GIK in 1993 and elections were held, and BB became PM
- BB removed by Faroog Leghari in 1996
5. Unstable Democratic Phase (1988-99)
- In the 1997 elections, NS secured 2/3rd majority.
- The 13th Amendment deprived the President of two powers.
- Now the President was bound by the advice of the PM.
- The President was no longer empowered to dissolve the National Assembly and dismiss the PM.
6. Recent Democratic Phase (2008-20)
- Prior to this, Musharaf Military intervention, NS was removed in 1999. He took following steps;
- Suspension of Constitution
- 7 Points Agenda introduced
- Judicial Validation in Zafer Ali Shah case
- 2002 Elections/17th Amendment
- Remote controlled Democracy 2003-2008. Three PMs were changed with ease.
7. Elections 2013, PML(N)
- National Action Plan (NAP) — 20 points
- Transparency International Report on corruption
- Energy and Economy- improvement
- China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC)
- The 8th NFC Award could not be finalized.
- Census held were controversial
- Absence of Political Reconciliation.
- Public Debt increased
- CPEC — an ethnic issue
Election 2018- PTI
- Elections 2018. PTI came to power for the first time.
- Elections are fair for some and unfair for others.
- The PTI government was removed through a vote of no-confidence.
Challenges for Democratic System
- Military involvement in Politics
- Corruption by political leaders
- Week Civilian institutions
- Absence of Free and fair elections
- Multiplicity of political parties
- Controlled Media
- Lack of Participant Political culture
How to overcome these challenges
- Functional Specialization
- Across the board Accountability
- Constitutional Supremacy
- Land Reforms
- Independent Election Commission
- Elections at all levels
- Freedom of Media
- It is concluded that democratic system of Pakistan has evolved over the last 75 years.
- Despite challenges it has strengthened in the recent past.
- It is hoped that it would be further strengthened in the forthcoming elections.
- Despite its weakness the democratic system may be allowed to flourish.