Fourth of July is a synonym for the American Independence Day. The same way as May 17 is a synonym for my home country Norways Independence Day or National Day, as we usually call it, in celebration of our constitution from 1814, when gaining independence from Denmark after 400 years as part of that country. The Norwegian Constitution was modelled on the American Constitution, the Declaration of Independence from 1776, when 13 states created the United States of America, breaking away from the United Kingdom of Great Britain at the end of wars and the American Revolution. Furthermore, Norway borrowed not only the colours of the flag from the French flag, le Tricolore, but also ideals from the French Constitution from 1789 when the French Revolution had succeeded and made it into a republic with more equal rights for its citizens and ending the absolute monarchy. It ended most of the privileges given to the feudal, aristocratic and religious groups, or estates, as they were called. The masses were to rule the country. The slogans from the revolution of freedom, equality and brotherhood live to this very day. America and France became lighthouses in Europes struggle for democracy and human rights, beginning over two hundred years ago. It took more than another 100 years for the other countries to develop democratic rule. In Norway, for example, we had a Parliament alright, but the government ministers were just top civil servants. When parliamentarism was adopted in 1884, we finally adopted a system where the ministers and the Cabinet became responsible to Parliament, and they could be voted down if they had lack of confidence. This system is basic for the way todays Western European countries are ruled. Most developing countries, too, base their governmental systems on the same broad foundation, but still evolving. We should note that neither France nor UK, or other colonial powers, allowed much democratic rule in their overseas territories. Today, though, the Western world is self-proclaimed custodian of democracy and human rights, only fifty-six years after the end of colonial rule. It gives us some reason to reflect and question why they did not do more for such rights in those countries when they could set the agenda themselves. We should also note that women did not have the same rights as men. Women played a direct role in the French Revolution, but to little advantage afterwards. It was not until the beginning of the nineteenth century that women got the right to vote. New Zealand, Finland and Norway were among the first, and then the others followed one after the other. But it was a century later than democracy had become the model In many ways, the first century of relative democracy in the West was the mens century and then, we could also say that the century that followed was the womens century, or, more specifically, the second half of the century, from the 1950s onwards when women in great numbers joined the labour force outside the primary sectors. And then from the 1960s and 70s, women benefited from the education revolution and today they outnumber men at university in most Western countries. By the way, three-quarters of university students in Iran are women and, according to the Higher Education Commission (HEC), there are over 50 percent women in Pakistani universities. Did you know that? And recall then that the first woman only entered the University of Oslo as recently as 1883, less than a hundred and thirty years ago. Pakistan is moving fast in this field, but slower in lower levels of education. And, then only a fraction of the women with degrees enter the workforce. We must find positive and negative sanctions to change such a waste. Education and information are cornerstones in any countrys democratic development, and that includes media development, free debate and all kinds of openness and enlightenment. Pakistan has in the last decade been doing well in the media field. In education, there is indeed room for improvement, as any principal would tell us, especially for girls, children in remote areas, handicapped, refugees and IDPs and others living in emergencies and underprivileged conditions. Europe had primary education before the democratic development started, mainly just giving reading skills combined with religious studies. In the nineteenth century, broader primary education for all was provided and by the turn of the twentieth century, there was universal primary education and literacy. This was an important basis for peoples willingness and demand for participation in politics and all kinds of interest groups, and therefore, the democratic development. Post-primary training was mostly limited to skills training and apprenticeship. Academic secondary and higher education was very limited. A hundred years ago, European countries had just a fraction of the academic expertise that developing countries have today, not to speak of what the West has now. In Europe, liberal and radical members of the educated elite sometimes played key roles in assisting the oppressed masses. They also helped question old taboos and social conventions, for example, in areas of reproductive health and womens affairs. It is not possible to discuss Europes democratic development without mentioning the positive impact of the Russian Revolution and the creation of the Soviet Union, which lasted from 1917 to 1990. Yes, there were many negative sides to it. However, many of the Marxist ideals in Communism were adopted by more moderate socialist-oriented Labour parties or, social-democratic parties, in the West. They won over the general conservative and ultra conservative ideologies, including Nazism. They were key actors in development of labour unions and they created the welfare states. That could only happen because there were political parties, labour unions, interest organisations, basic education and a general broad-based acceptance for the democratic values, which included everyone, indeed also the poor. The state became a tool for industrial and social development. It became the custodian of the rights and welfare of ordinary people. Obviously, the upper segments of society and also ordinary people have to pay taxes, and, in the West, there are heavy duties on luxury goods. The progressive tax system, not least in Norway and the rest of Scandinavia sometimes result in 50 percent tax, i.e. about half of a countrys GDP is being collected by the state, which then in turn redistributes it to social and others services to make the society fairer and better for all. This is a field where Pakistan must do better fast. Only 10 percent of GDP is collected in tax. Hence, the rich remain rich, and the poor remain poor. There is little social mobility and no hope for broad-based development, as long as this outdated system persists. It is important to note that the state must always play a key role in development, with the broad masses, and also the middle class. The upper classes are usually not to be trusted, moving their assets, businesses and residences abroad and anywhere where the profits and their own security and comfort are better. Any countrys development is based on ordinary peoples sweat and labour, with a fair state and leaders. It is useful to compare Pakistans situation and development with the European countries development paths. Many lessons can be drawn, especially regarding the importance of a strong state, and also the development of popular movements and political parties from below. When the Pakistani chattering class today says that we lack leaders, I always get quite pensive. It may well be true, but then, the leaders that we need should come from below, not from ourselves. I also believe that educated people in our advanced and technologically complicated world today have a special role to play, and we are still waiting for them to shoulder their social duties. We can learn from Americas and Europes history and struggle for democracy. But they do not have a blueprint, at least not in all fields. Today, the West itself has to work hard to keep many of the good and fair systems I have hailed in this article. I hope that the development of democratic rule will be much faster in Pakistan and other developing countries, than it was in Europe and America. The writer is a senior social scientist based in Islamabad, educated in Norway and Sweden, with three decades of work in development research, diplomacy and aid. Email: