Reasons of debacle of democracy in Pakistan


By Senator Rehman Malik

WHY democracy could not be proved a successful experience and democratic system in Pakistan. Democracy becomes non-functional if we do not follow the basic principles dictated by it. Democracy if is not run under the rule of law then, unfortunately, it is worst than dictatorship as the deviation from the rule of law means vesting the entire powers with a single individual, who can use it for his interests fearlessly.

This had been the main issue with our Pakistani branded democracy, which always remained under threat within its own created disloyal political fleet within the democratic system. Democracy through the power of vote leads to the democratic system for the government to be run through the rule of law and it all depends on how we develop an honest and transparent democratic system to serve the people and to create fear of law and not to rule the people by undermining their constitutional rights.

The public representatives through elections automatically become the masters and the common man helplessly submits himself with the hope of better days to come. Almighty God has given the right of living a better life to every human being. Our religion protects the rights of every human being from children to women and younger men to elders through well-defined Islamic laws.

Islam and our Constitution both have provided us with the rights of freedom of religion, speech, press, procession, and justice. It advocates respect for rule of law and no injustice at any level.

The element of love care and resolution of problems through the help of elders remained dominated for a very long period. It teaches us honesty and a corruption-free society and bars us from stealing others’ rights.

The governance is always implemented with a stick of accountability at all levels of the society irrespective of their status and rule of law prevails only by its strict implementation through the law enforcers. The criminal justice system and crimes have been running side by side ever since the existence of human beings.

The criminal justice system has gone through a process of evolution starting from the stone-age till now and the basic principle of governance is to respect the rule of law and the law. Rules are made by the respective society/parliament as per their traditions to live together with respect, tolerance, honour, and dignity. Pakistan has also gone through a similar transition in the legal and administrative systems and finally, the Constitution of Pakistan came into being in 1973, which is undergoing numerous amendments as per the developing legal and administrative requirements.

Pakistan’s present political leadership chalking out strategy for the survival of democratic system at a meeting of Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM), presided by its Head Maulana Fazlur Rehman in Lahore on December 14.

Despite having a Constitution, we are struggling for an appropriate system of governance through different transitions from dictatorship to semi-democratic forms of government since our independence. Basically, we experienced three models of governance in Pakistan i.e. parliamentary government, presidential, and military dictatorship.

Since 1947, Pakistan has been run by dictators three times. Since its creation in 1947, Pakistan has spent several decades under military rule Ayub Khan (1958–1971, General Ziaul Haq 1977–1988, General Pervaiz Musharraf 1999–2008). The rest of the time there has been parliamentary government. The detail of those regimes is bellow enabling us to analyse the frequent falls of the governments. Liaquat Ali Khan was the first Prime Minister of Pakistan under the first-ever democratic regime of Pakistan but he also kept on facing unusual opposition and he was finally shot dead. This was the first tragedy for Pakistan and Shaheed Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto also met the same fate as Liaquat Ali Khan and the same was the fate of Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto.

1. Mr. Liaqat Ali Khan15-08-1947 To 16-10-1951

2. Mr.Khawaja Nazimuddin 17-10-1951 To 17-04-1953

3. Mr. Mohammad Ali Bogra 17-04-1953 To 11-08-1955

4. Ch. Mohammed Ali 11-08-1955 To 12-09-1956

5. Mr. Hussain Shaheed Suharwardi 12-09-1956 To 18-10-1957

6. Mr. Ibrahim Ismail Chaundrigar 18-10-1957 To 16-12-1957

7. Malik Feroz Khan Noon 16-12-1957 To 07-10-1958

8. Mr. Noor-ul-Amin 07-12-1971 To 20-12-1971

9. Mr. Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto 14-08-1973 To 05-07-1977

10. Mr. Muhammad Khan Junejo 23-03-1985 To 29-05-1988

11. Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto 02-12-1988 To 06-08-1990

12. Mr. Ghulam Mustafa Khan Jatoi (Caretaker)06-08-1990 To 06-11-1990

13. Mian Mohammed Nawaz Sharif 06-11-1990 To 18-04-1993

14. Mir Balakh Sher Mazari (Caretaker) 18-04-1993 To 26-05-1993

15. Mian Mohammed Nawaz Sharif 26-05-1993 To 08-07-1993

16. Mr. Moin Qureshi (Caretaker) 08-07-1993 to 19-10-1993 and he was imported from USA representing World Bank.

17. Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto 19-10-1993 To 05-11-1996

18. Malik Meraj Khalid (Caretaker) 06-11-1996 To 17-02-1997

19. Mian Mohammed Nawaz Sharif 17-02-1997 To 12-10-1999

20. Mir Zafarullah Khan Jamali 23-11-2002 To 26-06-2004

21. Chuadhary Shujaat Hussain 30-06-2004 To 26-08-2004

22. Mr. Shaukat Aziz 28-08-2004 To 15-11-2007

23. Mr. Muhammad Mian Soomro (Caretaker) 16-11-2007 To 24-03-2008

24. Syed Yusuf Raza Gillani 25-03-2008 To 25-04-2012

25. Raja Pervez Ashraf 22-06-2012 To 24-03-2013

26. Mir Hazar Khan Khoso (Caretaker) 25-03-2013 To 05-06-2013

27. Mr. Muhammad Nawaz Sharif 05-06-2013 To 28-07-2017

28. Mr. Shahid Khaqan Abbasi 01-08-2017 To 31-05-2018

29. Justice (Retd) Nasir-ul-Mulk (Caretaker) 01-06-2018 To 18-08-2018

30. Mr. Imran Khan 18-08-2018 to date.

The above chart of our PMs and presidents shows that none of the elected PMs could ever complete democratic tenure and almost everyone faced internal encounters and remained in a state of insecurity. The above chart further reflects the struggle for power and track record of our internal dirty politics and intrigues for power. This also demonstrates a lack of consistency as a nation. Let us admit some of our politicians had played the dirty role to undermine democracy and a lot can be written on it.

Our politics was nothing but a race of deals and self-serving interests to get power or to facilitate dictator to take over and it is equally applicable now even but this double-faced political hypocrisy should come to end now. It is on record that only the dictators could rule for an extended period of time for over 5 years. It is unfortunate that whether it is a military rule or the democratic one, the nation’s opinion was never taken into consideration to formulate the national policies.

A great democratic nation is one that is free, honest, and self-reliant individuals having faith in God and themselves. Such individuals can only be groomed in an environment of freedom and confidence where they can get inspired to seek national targets.

There are six ways to enhance our democracy and make it more meaningful and effective for a common man which are practised universally as follows:

Firstly, there should be individual contribution in improving the community through community services ranging from delivery of logistics to local private or government organisations. Secondly, invest in your futuristic ideas and community by applying vision to innovation and progress.

Thirdly, efforts to be directed towards reforms which should provide comfort to a common man with security through rule of law. The fourth is to have qualitative input in everything to create long term national constructive engagements for future generations.

The fifth one is to develop a national habit of expression of gratitude demonstrating at all levels including the armed forces, officials, political leaders all those who are serving the nation. And, the sixth and foremost one rule of democracy is to exercise tolerance which is the main key to the success of democracy.

It is important to note that democracy is too important and precious to be wasted away in petty arguments, dharnas, long marches, and by allowing the foreign-funded proxy wars which had been the practice in our beloved country. Let us not forget the tragedy of breaking of ‘East Pakistan’ and making of Bangladesh.

The above narration clearly shows that democracy is not a mechanical system but a system that is run by individuals with a sense of unity. We, as a total of 70 political parties, expect to run the country with flawless democracy. We have a divided democratic system where instead of being thankful to our institution we invent ways and means to humiliate our institutions endangering the security of the country. Our governance needs to be enhanced and rule of law has to prevail. We have major national defaults that need to be rectified otherwise ruling chair will keep changing hands like the past as per the above power chart and will ultimately harm our beloved country. It must be noted that we are developing political polarisation and element of national disunity and this developing countrywide tension with multiple national crises may once again cause irreversible damage to the fragile democratic system leaving many politicians in unexpected shocks.

Note: Opinions expressed are solely my own and not necessarily to reflect the views or opinions of my party.

(The writer is former interior minister of Pakistan, Chairman Senate Standing Committee on Interior, author of five books and Chairman of Think Tank “Global Eye”. He can be reached at:, Twitter Senrehmanmalik)