Dilemma of Political Parties and Democratic Process in Pakistan

Saadullah Dehwar Baloch
It is often said that political parties are the main bricks of democracies in any modern society, through which societies can protect their social, cultural, civil, economic rights. Politics often describe as art— which is the key for coping up existing problems facing by any society. It also shapes the behavior of a society and it is worth mentioning that “either we are interested in politics or not but politics has always interested in us”.
Party ideology, discipline, human and financial resource, Active leadership and competency, and most importantly according to Max Weber ‘has the calling of politics’ are considered as the gradients for a successful political party.
Modern democratic countries cater for their political parties, in such countries if a political party has even a single representation in parliament, the state is obliged to cater the funding and other expenses of its office. Countries for example, India, Germany, Canada, Sweden, Australia, Austria, France, Netherland, Mexico, and more, subsidize their political parties or candidates during elections or beyond.
Since democracy needs a strong political party or multiple parties, however throughout the political history of Pakistan, none of any political party has reached to that level which could stamp the credentials of being the true Democratic Party having ideological grassroots in all over Pakistan.
Since the inception of Pakistan, we have had interrupted the political arena with 4 direct military rules and yet facing the authoritarian dimension to our society.
In all those years, we have had 15 parliaments to date which evolved from non-party based parliaments to party-based parliaments. In 1977, following the military rule of then the military dictator Genereal Zia-ul-haq, plunged country into multiple crises including terrorism, gun culture and political culture of corruption. He banned the sole nursery of politics ‘The Student Unions’ in 1982 which resulted in infertility of political process in-country. Due to which with the evolution of politics in Pakistan a new stigma of wealth and elite personality-based politics has been introduced in the political arena with the support of then the mighty rulers which created barriers and blocked the way of worker based politics.
Since 1982, now it has been 4 generations that youngsters were not allowed to participate in student politics due to which millions of youth remained apolitical who are eventually driven away systematically from politics. It caused political process damages due to which political parties are remained weaker, and instead of professional politicians, parliament is run by wealth, power and personality.
Eventually, frequent interventions in democracy by non-democratic forces effected democratic process but on the other hand political parties have even also failed to maintain internal democracy in their respective parties. They often rely on personality based elites to claim a lion share in powerful corridors instead of giving space to political workers especially the youth who have the experience and consider being the backbone of any political party. This attitude of political parties is not only discouraging new blood to take part in political process but also being into compromised political position within party and in the parliament by shinny elite electable politicians in the ranks of respective political parties.
Following the test case of parliament “Chairman Senate Election 2019”, in which despite opposition parties having the majority by 60 votes, lost the election dramatically in ballots where 60 votes reduced to 45. The other recent test case of parliament “Army Chief Act 2020” is no different; according to Mr. Farhatullah Babar, Secretary General PPPP, and former Senator, spoke last January in Lahore at a panel discussion (ThinkFest) arranged by PILDAt “the recent CEC meeting in which committee rejected the Pakistan Army Act, 2020 and suggested four amendments because it felt it was not according to instructions given by the Supreme Court of Pakistan. However, these amendments were withdrawn by the party leadership unilaterally within 24 hours without taking the CEC into confidence. These amendments were aimed at the supremacy of Parliament and empowering the Prime Minister not only to grant an extension to the chief of the army staff (COAS) but also to dismiss him, he said. He remarked that these types of decisions weakened party’s internal democracy also along with democracy in the country. “Have parties become subservient to the party leaders, and there is no democratic process?” he said.
Being apolitical caused a negative impact on political ethics and social fabric of society.
We are seeing senior political leaders who use derogatory, misogynist remarks and hate speeches on telly, on daily bases against their opponents. Parliament is run by elite politicians, constituency politics is very expensive and out of reach from middle class. Development budget spending on social security is less than 10 %—health and education remains at the bottom of interest following less than 1%, instead major chunk of budget is spending on state security despite having the poverty index of 40%.
Thus and so, a culture of idiocy and abusive behavior is more shrinking the space of pluralistic values and respect. Fellow citizen from minority are feeling insecure and voice of decent is being labeled as anti-state and yet democracy suffers alone.
The writer is a social and political activist associated with National Party-NP. He has masters in International Relations, Fellow with Swedish Institute, Tabeer YPFP and writes blogs on society and politics.
Disclaimer: Views expressed in this article are those of the author and Balochistan Voices not necessarily agrees with them.
Share your comments!