“Democracy”, the word is being more than mere a government of people by the people and for the people as Abraham Lincoln put it. It is something more than that. Its basic essence is perhaps the same but different countries have tried to implement and practice their own version, proving not necessarily right always. Moreover, the process of democratization is varied and no fixed assumptions can describe the process. Apart from analytical and conceptual differentiation, the state, in practice, has gone somewhere beyond the actual significance captured by most scholars.
In the contemporary era, democracy is becoming more of a dictatorial sort in developing states like Pakistan. A group of majorities overpowers the say of minorities. The fact that majority is authority is being successfully exploited at the hands of political elite. There are no criteria for the evaluation of the masses who are contributing to the vote bank. 51% of illiterate, politically unconscious mob can diminish the influence of 49% educated and somewhat conscious class leading to the intellectual downfall of the society. This is the paradox of democracy.
The presence of the fabricated and exploitative political activism or the absence of the political culture as a whole contributes in the emergence of the deficient community. Hence, even the small offers, often remain unfulfilled though, seem sparking to such “innocent” fellows. No one has taken the time to ponder as to why people do this. Why their focus has shifted? The answer to this is simple yet ignored.
Economic problems are usually either deliberately created or unintentionally brought to the surface, owing to the short termed, failed policies, to avert the attention of people from their role in politics. Both political and economic elite carry the baggage of this aversion. People’s thinking has rather marginalized to the extent that they usually put a more emphasis on luxuries instead of diverting their attentions towards broader social and political issues. They are made to feel gratified for grant of their due rights. People’s realization of being the most powerful entities in statecraft is undermined by the economic disparities they face. Acquisition of money commodity is the goal of their life. An unemployed person who is the sole breadwinner of the family, has much more to think about making his both ends meet rather than to think about the political leadership and their mottos in the coming elections.
Apart from economic issues, lack of political education also adds to the stagnation of the political culture. Most of the people have a little or no knowledge of the existing political parties, institutions, leaders and their agendas. The simplicity of females allows this culture to prosper. Being busy in their households, they remain unaware of the ongoing political situations and circumstances. In Pakistan, most of their decisions are based on their male counterparts’ decisions. Same fate is met by political decisions. The irony of the situation is that some of them are completely disconnected with their role in politics and considers themselves dissociative from day to day political scenario.
Another problem which contributes to the political cultural absentia is lack of an understanding that democracy is a gradual process. It is not possible to simply hold an election, form a new government and proclaim to be a democratic state. It is an incremental process which needs some time for consolidation. The democratic transition is not merely a paradigmatic shift rather it is a process which demands highest degree of political tolerance which is mostly absent in our part. This intolerance towards political transition is responsible for the dearth of political culture.
Aforementioned problems are the prime issues regarding establishment of political culture in Pakistan. This lack of political culture alludes to the deterioration of the true meaning of democracy to the degree that it rather becomes the dictatorship of the masses. There can be many such examples in the international arena. The purpose is not only to revert to the original notion of democracy but to evaluate Pakistani political culture critically so as to address the prevailing problems associated with the idea.
The resolution of such problems is only possible with the political awareness generated among the masses, not only by the academia but the media houses as well. Exploitation of masses at the hands of political as well as economic elite must be condemned. The significance of general human resource in the statecraft must be highlighted and the popular intelligentsia ought to be taken along in the political processes.
By Maria Shafique:
Quaid-e-Azam University, Islamabad.