LAHORE - Democracy in Pakistan is still fragile enough mainly due to autocratic attitude of the rulers but a military rule should not be a means to make it stronger and deep rooted in the system.

These views were expressed by speakers at a workshop organised by Pakistan Institute of Legislative Development and Transparency (PILDAT) on the subject “Assessment of the quality of democracy in Pakistan”.

The sitting was attended by former National Assembly speaker Elahi Buksh Sormroo, former Punjab governor Shahid Hamid, former Interior Minister Lt-Gen (rd) Moinuddin Haider, former High Commissioner Jahangir Ashraf Qazi, senior journalists Mujibur Rahman Shahmi and Attaur Rahman, Vice Chairman Pakistan Bar Council Muhammad Ramzan Ch, President LHCBA Abid Saqi, Azam Nazir Tarar and others while President Pildat Ahmad Bilal Mahboob welcomed the guests and presented introduction of the report prepared on the state of democracy over the last one year.

Somroo defined good democracy as a system of governance where bureaucracy is strong and above the government influence and serves the state.

Shahid Hamid while speaking in the context of the present turbulent political situation in the country opposed the demand for the resignation of the sitting prime minister and stated with reference to the situation in 1993 and 1999 when the PM was forces to quit but seeking resignation from his under duress was held unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.  He laid stress on finding a middle course instead of taking extreme position and citing a Presidential act of 1970 which he added, provided for the PM to go on leave for three months provided he was agreed to it.

The former governor described local government election as bench mark of good governance for they addressed problems of people at the grass roots. He lamented LG polls were seldom found preference in the priority list of the government consequently we failed to meet the standards of democracy.

Shahid welcomed registration of the FIR on the complaint of PAT on the Minhajul Quran workers’s killing and wanted the PAT to revisit its decision of revolution and also urged the PTI to review its decision on civil disobedience as under the Constitution every citizen is bound to save and ensure stability of the state which the PTI call had put at stake.

Moinudding Haider said democracy should be seen working and producing its effect by improving life of the people, bringing them welfare and ending their woes. But it is not the case in Pakistan.

“The reason is, the rulers are reluctant to share power with the people for which a system has been devised under the LG system but they do not hold election at this basic tier which amounts to an act of High Treason liable under Article 6 of the Constitution,” he added.

The minister during Musharraf era however termed the last election by and large fair yet he did not find the working of democracy following the polls as productive to solve problems. He also made a mention of killing of 15 persons in Model Town and regretted that the FIR on the same could not be timely registered which he mocked as fruit of democracy. Jahangir Ashraf Qazi did not find a genuine democracy in Pakistan for the fact it was inane of public participation in the decision making. He said we have electoral and procedural democracy but not genuine which contains rule of law, education and other basic amenities in the essence and added, had we genuine democracy we would not have faced the current political tribulation.

He said over the decades we have been in a kind of vicious circle which starts with election and peaks into military rule and then civil government and added we need to break it if we want to live in quality democracy.

Shami criticised the PTI and the PAT protest and said if their trend is recognised legitimate no government would be able to continue. He said in a democratic set up there is no room for revolution as it is antithesis of democracy and undermines the authority of the votes and the constitution.

Ramzan Ch said in real democracy issues are resolved through talks for which a space is created averting harsh and extreme stand. He said we miss that criterion therefore we have a shaky democratic system.