Democracy at work


It was indeed a rare and epoch making spectacle to watch the newly elected President taking oath of his office, flanked by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and former President Asif Ali Zardari, with two former Prime Ministers, political leaders and services chiefs in attendance. The event not only reflected a healthy transformation in the political culture of the country, made possible by smooth transfer of power through ballot but also represented a strong snub to the detractors of democracy and its virtues.

While the phenomenon of peaceful transfer of power and honourable exit of the former President in the best democratic traditions is being widely hailed as a harbinger of political stability and consolidation of democracy in this country, regrettably, there are some cynics out there who are in a constant state of denial with regards to the benefits of democracy alluding to the alleged bad governance during the last regime. They also disapprove the gesture of the Prime Minister to set new democratic traditions like in the well established democracies where the outgoing rulers are accorded due honour irrespective of their good or bad record of governance. That is how democracy is strengthened to unleash its potential for changing the destiny of the people. Democracy is universally regarded as the best system of governance and it is rightly said that the worst democracy is better than the most benign dictatorship.
Denying this irrefutable reality is cynicism of the first order. Some arm chair gladiators and pseudo-intellectuals are also desperately trying to rub in the notion that democracy has failed to work. It is in full retreat and its failure has made the people to give up on it. One of the wizards has even gone to the extent of asserting that according to a survey 60% of the people want the army to rule the country. That perhaps is the biggest lie of all times. The unprecedented turn out of the voters in the May 11 elections is a ranting rejection of this notion and unswerving faith of the people in the continuation of the democratic process.
To be honest, despite the alleged corruption and bad governance by the last regime, it made a sterling contribution to strengthening of democracy in the country; of course with admirable support from Nawaz led PML-N in conformity with the spirit enshrined in the Charter of Democracy that obligates both the parties not to take any step to destabilize each other’s government and to join hands for thwarting the machinations of the forces inimical to democratic process in the country.
Army leadership also deserves unqualified accolades for the support extended to democracy and resisting the temptation to wrap up the system. The other achievements of democracy since its revival five years ago include restoration of the mutilated constitution to its original form through eighteenth amendment, resolution of the contentious political issues through nineteenth and twentieth amendment, NFC Award and legislation on gender equality and women empowerment, carried out by the parliament in a rare show of solidarity by the political parties represented in the legislature.
The emergence of the independent judiciary and free media are the best things that have ever happened in this land of the pure during a democratic era. The dividends of these developments are manifestly discernible and beyond any reproach. But the cynics still remain stuck in their denial mode. One can only pity their situation because cynicism is a disease which obscures all the mental faculties of a person to distinguish between right and wrong and develops an impulsive propensity in the afflicted person to invariably look at the darker side of the things.
Now that the transfer of power has taken place through ballot, it is heartening to note that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is continuing with the spirit of reconciliation, accommodation and consensus in overcoming the challenges confronting the country. He has honoured the mandate given to the other parties in Sind and Khyber Pakhtunkhawa; installed a Baloch nationalist as Chief Minister in Balochistan in spite of the fact that his party was in a position to form the government; made relentless efforts to keep all the political parties in the loop in firming up strategies for dealing with the situation in Karachi and Balochistan and above all orchestrated a consensus approach for dialogue with TTP by holding APC. Another very positive development is the assurance extended by Zardri to support Nawaz government in its endeavours to carry forward the baton of democracy. All these developments are best example of democracy at work. Nawaz Sharif through his actions has proved beyond any doubt that democracy has come to stay and things have changed for the better.
Though three months are too short a period to judge the performance of any government, there are very strong indicators suggesting that the Nawaz government was moving with a sense of urgency and commitment to extricate the country from the quagmire it has been pushed into. There has been discernible reduction in the power outages as a result of retiring of the circular debt. The installation of coal based power plants with a cumulative power generating capacity of 6600 MW is being fast-tracked. Structural changes in the macro-economic arena, credible steps for attracting foreign investment in the energy and other sectors of the economy, clinching a deal with the IMF to prevent default in the payment of loans are some of the other success stories that promise a prosperous future. 


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