People and politics in Pakistan
Dr Muhammad Khan
Supremacy of law is the first feature of an ideal state, as described by political philosopher like Aristotle. Law can be described as a system of rules that are created and enforced through social or governmental institutions to regulate behaviour. Law is systems that regulates and ensures that individuals or a community adhere to the will of the state. Indeed, laws are made for adherence by all, the rulers and the people of a state. There is no selective application of law in an ideal state. It is Parliament which makes laws for the state. In a democratic system of government, the people of a state and their welfare must get priority. Indeed, democracy is all about the system of rule by laws where ‘law protects the rights of citizens, maintains order, and limits the power of government.’ All citizen of the state are treated equally without any discrimination.
Article 9 of the Constitution of Pakistan-1973 provides a comprehensive coverage for the safety and security of the citizens of Pakistan. The constitution also laid down the procedure of justice system, basic rights and matters pertaining public freedom. Unfortunately, despite presence of set of rules and regulations, there is a sufferance of the people on daily basis. The people of Pakistan are unsafe and unprotected in their own homeland. This is despite that, the constitution says, “No person shall be deprived of life or liberties save in accordance with law.” Whereas, the state constitutes a geographical boundary and the masses, practically, the people of Pakistan have been the least priority for the successive governments.
This all can be attributed to the governance system, being practiced in Pakistan. Whereas, Governance is “the process of decision-making and the process by which decisions are implemented (or not implemented)” the good governance is an approach to government that is committed to creating a system founded in justice and peace that protects individual’s human rights and civil liberties. Anything done in contradiction is bad governance. Out of the eight indicators, the United Nations has fixed to measure the good governance; the rule of law is the first one. Besides, there are other factors like; “Transparency, Responsiveness, Consensus Oriented, Equity and Inclusiveness, Effectiveness and Efficiency, and Accountability.
In Pakistan the ruling class consider that, implementation of the rule of law is the responsibility of people. The rulers and affluent class is above all the laws and their and responsibilities towards people. This has been demonstrated by all most all governments their governance system. Besides, there are gross disparities in the social setup of Pakistan; social inequality, lack of justice and factors like transparency. The successive governments in Pakistan have failed to establish an ethical institution for the development of moral qualities of citizens for the ultimate promotion of good and happy life for the people. A good and happy life comes through the concept of a social welfare state. Through this concept, a ‘government can cushion the inability of citizens to provide for themselves, particularly in the vulnerable conditions of youth, old age, sickness, disability and unemployment due to economic forces beyond their control.’
A few ruling families of Pakistan has not allowed the state to flourish on the concept of a welfare state or a true democratic state. In essence, in a democracy, ‘people rule over themselves, a perverted form of government. Herodotus terms this as, form of government where ‘ruling power of the state is largely vested in the members of the community as a whole. Former US President Abraham Lincoln said, “it is a government of the people, by the people and for the people. In brief, “Democracy is that form of Government in which the ruling power of a state is legally vested, not in any particular class or classes but in the members of the community as a whole”.
In Pakistan, there is an inverse order and in the garb of democracy, the few families and classes have made its huge masses (207 million people) as their hostage. All pleasures and happiness of the democracy and a welfare state are for this selected class and all miseries and dejections are the people of Pakistan. The maximum priorities, the rulers had how to grab the power by legal and illegal means and then its perpetuation under all odds by misleading and deceiving the masses on various pretexts. For perpetuation of their rules, there has been exploitation of state institutions and youth, who needed a clearly defined future course of action. Indeed, the most important priority of any government should have been investment in education. There have been no worthwhile efforts in this regard. Today educational system is highly politicised ill organised. This is all inclusive; from basic education to university level. Then, through 18th Amendment, it has been denationalised; making it a provincial issue.
Owing to vested interests of few, today Pakistan is passing through the most critical stage of its history. There is an institutional decay, diplomatic isolation, social disharmony, economic collapse and political exploitation. Such indicators are seriously threatening the sovereignty and solidarity of the state. Therefore there is a serious requirement that, all stakeholders must find some time to think about the supremacy of law, the people and above all the state of Pakistan to find a relevance of political forces in a future scenario.
The writer, Professor of Politics and International Relations, is based in Islamabad.