“If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself.”

–James Madison

Pakistani society faces an interesting dilemma. People generally understand that a democratically elected government has the ultimate right to govern; the idea that it regularly escapes checks and balances and has established a veil between the individual and the state brings about a sense of resentment in the public. Criticism of the government is casually branded as being an undemocratic activity, and agitations regarding the policies are considered to be anti-state.

It’s about time we realise that, the government, as a rule, must be open to criticism and feedback. The role of the public must not end with the election of a government, but must continue as a regular ingredient of democracy. Political alienation should be minimised if we are to take the idea of democracy further. In the past, the public has been subject to authoritarian rule and rigid policies, but there is no reason as to why that practice should continue. An actual democratic government should be public-friendly, and be aware that the public has ultimate control. Perhaps it is the absence of this exchange that prevents us from developing into a healthy democracy.