Pakistan: Problems and Prospects of Democratisation

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<ul><li><p>8/9/2019 Pakistan: Problems and Prospects of Democratisation</p><p> 1/11</p></li><li><p>8/9/2019 Pakistan: Problems and Prospects of Democratisation</p><p> 2/11</p></li><li><p>8/9/2019 Pakistan: Problems and Prospects of Democratisation</p><p> 3/11</p><p>Problems and prospects of Democratisation in PakistanParminder S. Bhogal*</p><p>Mohammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan, while reflecting upon the further political</p><p>outlook of the proposed Pakistan state should be, remarked very enthusiastically, Democracy</p><p>was in our blood, Democracy was in our marrow.1 Thatwas in 1943. With a shot span in fouryears thereafter, the state of Pakistan made its hurried entry into the comity of the free countries</p><p>of the world. Jinnah disapprovingly had called his Pakistan a moth eaten. And the politicalevents that soon followed in Pakistan do show that probability the moth had also eaten into the</p><p>democracy of Pakistan. Jinnah who himself became the first Governor General of Pakistan,</p><p>introduced a highly centralized executive to run the newly founded county. Though structures of</p><p>the new Government had an outward appearance of a parliamentary democracy, however theunderlying power structure was made increasingly centralized.</p><p>There were multifarious factors which led to the emergence of such a situation in Pakistan.</p><p>The foremost among them was the flawed legacy of the Muslim League. The League emerged as</p><p>a small group of persons who were antagonised to, and so continuously opposed, the congress,</p><p>never adopting any positive programme and venturing out to build a mass base among theMuslim populace of India. Another factor was the premature birth of Pakistan. The ideological</p><p>formation of Pakistan had not yet taken place in the minds of people, who were to become its</p><p>major populace. Then there was the oligarchic nature of Leagues leadership. Decision making in</p><p>Muslim League always revolved around Jinnah and to an extent Liaquat Ali Khan. Thus soon</p><p>after there passing away, the league virtually became leaderless after 1951. The communalfoundation of Pakistan, as, the mobilisation of Muslims was carried out under the slogan of</p><p>Muslim Nationalism and the primacy of Islam, also had its role to play, as soon the</p><p>communalists and liberalists were crossing the swords in a battle of supremacy in an independent</p><p>Pakistan. The ethnic dominance of League leadership further created problems. The leagueleadership was heavily Mohajir dominated, and in an independent Pakistan, they were not sure of</p><p>wider public support.Hence, they attempted to survive through a centralized military-bureaucratic set up.</p><p>However, the local regional elites contested this, and this led to strains, which ultimately derailed</p><p>the political process in Pakistan.</p><p>The oligarchic league leadership delayed the formation of the constitution, and remained</p><p>over dependent upon the colonial set up, which again had it ethnic outlook with Mohajirs andPunjabis having an upper hand. This Punjabi-Mohajir combined further did not like the idea of</p><p>Bengali dominated Pakistan, as there were structural imbalances between, and the west</p><p>Pakistanis as the Bengalis were the single largest, culturally stronger community in Pakistan,comprising around 56 percent of the total population. Another significant factor was emerging</p><p>international environment, especially the strong cold war pulls. The US in their attempts to rein</p><p>in Pakistan into their security alliances targeted at the containment policy, soon startedhobnobbing with the military- bureaucratic elites of Pakistan, such an arrangement had its ownimmediate reasons in Pakistan s well because it was to be extended both financial and military</p><p>aid. However, such development proved detrimental in the long run to emergence of any</p><p>representative democratic system in Pakistan; as such an alliance strengthened the position ofmilitary- bureaucratic nexus, which was the arch enemy of liberal democracy.</p><p>I</p><p>In this way, Pakistan began with strongly centralized policy making apparatus</p><p>*UGC teacher fellow, Department of Gandhian &amp; Peace studies, Punjab University Chandigarh</p></li><li><p>8/9/2019 Pakistan: Problems and Prospects of Democratisation</p><p> 4/11</p><p>In a country full of ethnic diversities, this soon began to show strains on the nascent politicalsystem. Centrifugal tendencies soon began to emerge and challenged the centralized system.Firstly, during the constitution making process, the central and provincial leadership could not</p><p>build a consensus as to how the power was to be shared at both levels. Another strain was</p><p>authored by the clergy emboldened by the strong communal card played by Leaguites leading to</p><p>the partition of India and the mobilization of Muslim masses thereof. They opposed the liberal</p><p>westernized attitude of the Leagues central Mohajir leadership, and instead pressed hard forconstitutional Islamisation in the in the new state. They rejected outright any special provisions</p><p>for the minorities contained in the report pf the Basic Principles Committee submitted to theconstituent assembly on March 7, 1949. This report promised democracy and spoke provision</p><p>and safe guard for minorities so that they could practice their religion and develop their cultures.</p><p>However, by November 1950 this report had to be withdrawn, because the radical Islamists didnot allow it. [2] All these factors resulted in the breaking upon of the fragile unity created over</p><p>Muslim nationalism and badly fractured newly founded policy of Pakistan. The greatest</p><p>advantage of such chaotic situation accrued to the army-- bureaucracy combine, who being</p><p>comparatively better organized were able to dominance and displacing the nascent politicalstarted by Muslim League leadership.</p><p>After the assassination of the Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan in 1951[3]</p><p>the military-bureaucratic combine almost got a free hand as they encouraged factionalism among alreadyloosely held into league cadres and it soon withered away into many groups. The combine</p><p>changed governor generals and prime ministers at will, did not enforce the constitution of 1956,</p><p>as the predominant position of the prime minister vis--vis the President in that constitution</p><p>would not suit this nexus, and finally imposed martial law on October 7, 1958, making it easy forGen. Ayub Khan the C-in-C Pakistan Armed Forces to finally dismantle whatever was left of the</p><p>civilian Government., and instead install himself as head of the first praetorian regime in</p><p>Pakistan.Thus we see that there were half- hearted attempts by the Muslims League leadership to</p><p>institutionalize democracy in Pakistan. However due to their weak position they failed to involve</p><p>any viable political system and institutions. Pakistan, thus to quote Phillipe Schmitter, presented</p><p>a classic case of the wide spread desire of fledgeling neo-democracies, to imitate the basicnorms and institutions of established liberal democracies, which is by no means a guarantee of</p><p>successespecially when the (democratic) transition is initiated and imposed from above, the</p><p>previous rulers attempt to protect their interest by embedding authoritarian practices within the</p><p>emergent regime. [4]</p><p>II</p><p>It will be quite paradoxical to note that the first significant movement for</p><p>democracy in Pakistan germinated and surged ahead under the praetorian regime of Gen. Ayub</p><p>Khan who took over on October 27, 1958. The seeds of this democratic movement are to befound in the fall-out of the legitimacy facade adopted by Ayub regime, which he called BasicDemocracy. The basic democracy was a scheme containing the establishment of institutions</p><p>whereby Ayub had planned to involve the vast rural elites along with the strong beauracratic set -</p><p>up with the twin purpose of initiating reforms and development in the countryside and ofdeveloping some kind of civilian constituency for his regime. Apart from the rural landlord</p><p>elites, Ayub was also supported by the minuscule industrial bourgeoisie of Pakistan, who were</p><p>keen to derive economic benefits by being the part of the regime. Both the categories of eliteswere powerful and well organized people from Punjab and Eastern N.W.F.P and some areas of</p><p>rural Sind. They had not been properly accommodated in the pre-p1958 period as they had</p><p>remained alienated from the then Muslim League leadership before and after the partition. [5]</p></li><li><p>8/9/2019 Pakistan: Problems and Prospects of Democratisation</p><p> 5/11</p><p>The Basic Democracy system primarily involved the election of 80,000 basic democratson the adult suffrage at the rate of 1 basic democrat per village/ward or in other wordsapproximately 1000 voters were to elect 1 basic democrat. These 80,000 basic democrats were to</p><p>become the base of four-staged pyramid, at apex of which Gen. Ayub himself as the president</p><p>was to be elected by them, the undoubtedly voted for the constitution of Ayub with more than 95</p><p>percent yes vote. They were also to elect the National Assembly and the state assemblies and</p><p>the local unions. They were to work in close association with the bureaucracy and were to beguided by them. Outwardly the system appeared attractive to them. However its implementation</p><p>and working was altogether illusive. To begin with, the candidates for election were chosen bydistrict bureaucracy and it was made sure that only influential persons and industrialists, who</p><p>properly disposed to towards the Ayub regime contested the elections. The political parties had</p><p>already been banned by them. And the operational field they became a link between local peopleand bureaucracy. [6] With special class interest those people became pets of bureaucracy in the</p><p>same way as were to local stooges or safaidposh during the British viceregal system in India. [7]</p><p>However as it happened, the basic democracy system involved a few, but alienated</p><p>many as those who were left out, along the urban intellectual and small but significant classes,and did not support the scheme, even if they did not come out in a protest at the outset. The</p><p>common man in the courtyard, the provinces other than Punjab, and N. W. F. P to an extentremained cold in this scheme. In fact the regime made error of confusing the establishment ofthe institution with the process of political institutionalization. The latter implies legitimacy of</p><p>foreign structures of public authority; such approval integrates political system, playing a critical</p><p>role in the process of nation building. The establishment of a public institution without consent</p><p>(as was done by Ayub in this case) is counter-productive. Instead of neutralizing political</p><p>tensions, these institutions became symbols of mass alienation.[8]</p><p>Along with such mechanizations of basic democracy was the ideological control</p><p>attempted by Ayub through his rigorous media control, law reforms, and containing theacademics in the universities. [9]</p><p>Ayubs industrialization also generated social cleavages. The outwardly buoyant</p><p>industrial development was in fact resulting in the concentration of wealth in the hands of a few</p><p>traditionally wealthy families. This lead to increasing unrest among the urban working classeswho were being adversely affected by inadequate distributive mechanisms that involved in the</p><p>result of apathy by the Government. All these forces, disgruntled the regime, started nursing the</p><p>idea of democratization. They soon got the opportunity after the debacle of the Pakistani army atthe hands of India in the 1945 Indo-Pak war. The myth of army superiority shattered and all the</p><p>anti-regime elements surged ahead under the leadership of Z.A Bhutto who had broken away the</p><p>regime and was combining his tremendous demagoguery along with the national unrest and wasgoing to build a strong Anti-Ayub movement, shouting the slogans of democracy. The Sindi</p><p>nationalists, the Baluchis, the N.W.F.P people already alienated by Ayub because of one of his</p><p>unit [10] scheme and ideological assault and the ethnic cultural outlook, supported Bhutto.</p><p>However the major supported Bhutto. However the major support came from Sind and Punjab inthe end. East Pakistan was already simmering in discontent as the Bengalis were never</p><p>reconciled to Punjab-Mohajir in the pre-1958 period. The sabotaging of the1956 constitution</p><p>further alienated them and their national Awami League Party under Sheikh Mujibir Rehman</p><p>was demanding a loose confederation of the East and West Pakistan, with very nominal power tofederal Government. This was being perceived as secessionist by the regime.</p><p>In West Pakistan, as the anti-Ayub movement surged ahead under Bhutto who had</p><p>formed a new political party called Pakistani people Party (PPP) in December 1967, the militaryGovernment let loose a wave of repression. However, the movement momentum and Ayub was</p><p>forced to step down on March 1969, handling over the power Gen. Yahya Khan, his chief of</p><p>army staff. Yahya Khan, in order to tide over the crises announced elections of the National</p></li><li><p>8/9/2019 Pakistan: Problems and Prospects of Democratisation</p><p> 6/11</p><p>Assembly under a Legal Frame work Order (LFO) which hinted at a conditional transfer ofpower to the civilian authority after the election, thereby hoping to retain some control witharmed forces. This was a turning point in the history of democratic process in Pakistan.</p><p>The elections, held in December 1970, left PPP of Zulfiqar Bhutto as the majority party</p><p>in the West Pakistan with 81 seats out of total 145 for the National Assembly, and the majority</p><p>of seats in the Sind and Punjab Provincial Assemblies. The National Awami Party won the</p><p>Baluchistan and N.W.F.P assembly elections. The significance of these elections in Pakistansdemocratic process is, firstly, that these were the first ever, fair elections to be held in Pakistan.</p><p>Secondly, for the first time, the masses of Pakistan came in contact with the political system toexpress themselves. Thirdly, elections projected very boldly the issue of development, equitable</p><p>distribution, regional aspirations, and of course representative democracy along with</p><p>accountability.</p><p>III</p><p>Power was transferred to Bhutto in 1972 after the Pakistan army was mauled in1971 Indo-Pak war, and after the East Pakistan has succeeded in forming a new sovereign</p><p>country called Bangladesh. Under these extraordinary circumstances, the Army quietly andunconditionally handed over power to the democratically elected Government. This time thuswas the opportune to carry out the consolidation of democratic process in Pakistan to an extent.</p><p>However, soon after Bhutto assumed power, his highly ambitious and personalised politic</p><p>hampered any such development. Though he established representative, democratic political</p><p>institutions through a constitution of 1973, and carried out economic reforms including landreforms, however he soon went astray and was carried away by immense power and popularity</p><p>he enjoyed in the beginning. Soon he was undoing whatever he had accomplished till then.</p><p>However the significance of Bhutto regarding the democratization process in Pakistanshould not go unnoticed. It was he who at a very crucial time provided leadership to a nascent</p><p>movement for...</p></li></ul>