Democracy in Pakistan is yet a dream that has not been allowed to materialise in letter and in spirit. It is a ray of hope that appears on the dark political horizon just for a short time; it quickly vanishes when the dictators, thanks to the incompetence of politicians to manage the affairs of the state, come on the scene.

There is periodic intervention of dictatorship, followed by a strange type of government that is neither dictatorship nor democracy. Thus, it is always inefficient, weak and corrupt, which does not have the power to deliver what democracy stands for.

The sad part of the story is that Pakistanis have been betrayed several times in the name of democracy. Dictators have intervened on the pretext of cleaning the mess created by the politicians to let democracy flourish. While the politicians seek power by making big claims of serving the cause of democracy. In reality, they have served no one - neither people nor democracy. Instead they have feathered well their own nests at the cost of the people.

The people, on their part, have constantly struggled for change, but unfortunately nothing has changed; every time old wines come in new bottles.

During the 65-year political history of Pakistan, they have witnessed four dictators, 11 Presidents, 18 Prime Ministers and several versions of the constitution; yet their dream did not come true.

True democracy stands for a government in which the people’s will prevails. It stands for justice, equality, accountability and transparency. It ensures the rule of law and supremacy of the constitution. It paves the way for good governance, which in return gives the people peace, progress and prosperity. If a system of government lacks these basic features, then it is not a democracy, but a mockery of democracy.

The best example is the PPP-led coalition government that ended on March 16. It came into power in 2008 after the people’s historic struggle - the judiciary’s strong resistance and the media’s hysterical campaign against the then President Pervez Musharraf. The people had given to PPP a mandate with great expectation. But in return, it gave them nothing, except rampant corruption, deteriorating economy, acute energy shortage and poor law and order situation. It is unfortunate, indeed, that the PPP failed to learn from past mistakes and repeated them. In 2008, it got an opportunity to make history, but it did not avail it.

It is not just in the case of PPP. The other political parties whenever in power have also betrayed the people’s trust.

Having said that, it is important to add that PML-N, undoubtedly, showed political maturity while playing the role of the opposition that led to the continuation of democracy in whatever form it exists. Nawaz Sharif’s political maturity and Shahbaz Sharif’s excellent administrative skills seems to be the PML-N’s greatest assets, which may help democracy to succeed in Pakistan in the future.

In the name of democracy the stage is being set for the 2013 elections. Karl Marx’s defined it as a process in which "the oppressed are allowed once every few years to decide which particular representatives of the oppressing class are to represent and repress them.” If the people of Pakistan want to prove Marx wrong and if they want to stop the recurrence of dictatorship and sham democracy, then they have to select the right person for the right job.

Indeed, this could be the only opportunity; if the people avail it with sound judgment and bold decisions, then spring is not far away. But if they fail this time, then, perhaps, there will be an eternal democratic winter that will do them immense harm. The ball is in the people’s court; wake up and change the destiny of the country by voting for the right candidates.

 The writer is former youth parliamentarian from Fata.   Email: