It is often said that the worst form of democracy is better than the best dictatorship. This concept regarding democracy suits those societies where the pre-requisites of democracy are fulfilled in an effective manner. Merely casting a vote in general elections, on the basis of adult franchise, is not democracy. Democracy is more than that.

Democracy grows and flourishes in those societies where there is an educated and sensible electorate, sincere and capable leadership, sound economy, middle class representation in legislative assemblies, a tolerant society, organized mainstream political parties, free media (both print and electronic), social justice, tolerance in the political parties, freedom of expression, strong opposition, and a non-discriminatory society etc.

Those societies which are now called truly democratic and developed, achieved democratic excellence only when they followed the above mentioned fundamentals of democracy. They did not achieve such excellence overnight. It took years, even centuries, for such nations to achieve such milestones. No doubt, many hindrances came in their way towards the realization of such an ideal, but through commitment, sincerity, and political will they overpowered those obstacles in an effective manner.

There is no doubt that Pakistan has not been able to strengthen its democratic roots in its history of seventy-one years. Frequent martial laws in the country, poor performance of the democratic governments, non-participation of the middle class in politics, incapable and corrupt leadership, weak economy, injustice, feudal culture, oppressive policies of different governments in the past against media, suppression of opposition parties by ruling parties, partial role of judiciary in supporting dictatorship by coining a “doctrine of necessity”, and mass scale illiteracy are only some of the reasons due to which democracy has failed to strengthen its feet in Pakistan.

For being a true democratic country and society, it is, therefore, very binding on us that we fulfil all the requirements of the democracy first, and then demand the same from others.

ABDUL SAMAD SAMO,

Karachi, February 20.