Atle Hetland Democratic institutions cannot be built overnight, and a democratic understanding takes even longer to grow roots. Pakistan seems to be suffering from lack of a deep-rooted democratic tradition and culture. Obviously so since the country has had military rulers for much of the time since 1947, and the civilian rulers have often had military background and training. Leaders have always known that if things go bad, the military may take power again. Not exactly a situation to develop solid democratic institutions and organisations. I have been working in education, research and development most of my life, so I would emphasise that there is also need for teaching of democratic thinking and values, in schools, organisations, yes, and indeed in political parties. Through that, people would learn and understand more about democracy. They would develop an inbuilt alarm clock, which would sound when things go astray. The same kind of alarm clock that tells religious believers what to do and not to do. The basic understanding about right and wrong is inbuilt in all human beings, I believe. Individual and moral values and ethics are taught in the homes and the communities where we live. Religion plays an important part. Political ideologies come and go. Well, some stay, like socialism and social democratic values, emphasising the importance of equality and sharing. The ideal would be to contribute according to our ability and receive according to our needs. If some have more than others and more than they need, they should share with those who have less. Islam teaches people to give Zakat and share their wealth with those who have less. However, since some human beings may not follow such norms, progressive tax systems must also be developed, such as those we have in my home country Norway, elsewhere in Scandinavia and most other countries in the West. We all complain about the high taxation, but we also know that nobody else has as good free welfare services, such as child support, free education and medical services, unemployment benefits, and so on. We are proud of the excellent services for all. Even if we dont have a penny and go to the hospital, we receive the same treatment as a government minister or a company CEO. In Norway, we grow up with an expectation of entitlement to first class standards for all, and I repeat, for all. We have the same right to the services irrespective of who we are, old or young, rich or poor, immigrant or refugee, permanent secretary or office cleaner. But people are not only learning to demand and receive from the society when needed. We also learn to contribute. Well, every generation seems to say that such social responsibility values were more prominent before. And many complain about some taking advantage of a good welfare system, even if they dont need it. Yet, others are shy to demand their rights. If you want to succeed and do well in the Norwegian society, where you have all possibilities and choices you can dream of, nobody will hinder you, you also have to do your best yourself. You have to work hard at school, take part in youth organisations and groups, focus on your vocational or higher education, be serious in your job, and so on. Part of which is also to be active in a political party, an interest organisation, a sports club, a cultural group, and so on. All these things are built on values, on a democratic understanding of the rights and obligations to participate. You can reach the moon, well, almost, based on your own efforts, in a system, which emphasises fair play, democratic values and opportunities for all. This is not entirely true, of course, or it is not true for absolutely everybody all the time. There are still certain background variables that make it difficult for everybody to play on a level playing field. For example, an immigrant needs to know the Norwegian language; a young man who has grown up in a home with substance abuse may lack clear purpose in life; a young unmarried mother will have a hard time completing her education and get a good job; an industrial worker in a small town earns less than a university teacher, and if the factory closes he may never find a new job unless he moves to another town or city. There are still typical disparities like this, and in our global age and competitive world, we also allow new inequalities to develop because we think the country will then be in a better position to gain some profit in the crude capitalist world. Not that the country really needs it, being the fifth largest oil exporter in the world with a population of just shy of five million. All in all, the Scandinavian model is built on democratic thinking and values, which teaches us that everybody should have a fair share of the pie. Those values and the other aspects I have mentioned have become intrinsic in the Norwegian psychic. Are they good? Yes, I do think so. Now, when I am getting older, I only worry that the young generation does not put enough emphasis on these basic social values, for example, that they should allow a wider salary gap than what we already have, and tax relief for the rich, hoping that they then will create more jobs for ordinary people. And I worry that the society will become more competitive and thus less humane. Are the nice stories from Norway of any importance to Pakistan? Yes, certainly. They are not stories, they are lessons in simple language, and lessons are to learn from and to give wisdom. Not wholesale, of course. But I believe Pakistan in its democratic efforts should compare notes with Norway and the other Nordic countries. Those countries recent history has a lot to offer Pakistans government, civil service, political parties, and organisations and the civil society. The democratic values should be further developed in Pakistan through internal training and debate in the schools and institutions, organisations and the media, and so on. The educational institutions play an important role in developing democratic values. In Norway, that is enshrined in the first paragraphs of the Constitution for the compulsory primary and secondary education. I believe that the University of Gujarat, situated in the main sending area of immigrants to Norway, will study these issues further when the Norwegian Study Centre will open there later this year. Other institutions should also study and learn from the Norwegians, not only for academic reasons, but simply for utilitarian development reasons. And the Norwegians, can they not learn from Pakistan? Obviously, in numerous fields. For example, how come that such a diverse population as Pakistans manages to live so peacefully together? That is a more important part of reality and the truth about Pakistan than the sad extremist incidents that also happen. And, how come that Pakistanis manage to run family businesses so well? But these are topics for other articles. Today, I wanted Pakistanis to look to Norway, and gain some insight from the Norwegian northern lights, or aurora borealis, before the spring weather makes it more difficulty to see. The writer is a senior Norwegian social scientist currently based in Islamabad. Email: