Pakistan Crisis; Why Doesn’t Democracy Take Root in This Region?
The ongoing crisis in Pakistan encompasses several dimensions and causal factors, among which the absence of a well-founded and deeply rooted democracy stands out. When the populace doesn’t have an active role in deciding their own fate and other entities consistently make decisions on their behalf, tensions and disturbances tend to grow progressively, giving birth to fresh crises. From its inception up until the present day, Pakistan has been wrestling with a sequence of crises of this nature. While it has never quite touched the verge of collapse, it has also failed to move from the cycle of persistent and recurring crises towards a state of stability and enduring growth. This condition isn’t exclusive to Pakistan; a similar state of affairs exists in other nations within the region. Iran, for instance, has recently been embroiled in a comparable crisis. Afghanistan adjacent countries are also susceptible to such crises, with issues lurking like time bombs, ready to explode at any moment.
The question arises: why does democracy struggle to establish itself, reach maturity, and attain the necessary stability in these countries? Furthermore, when it occasionally starts to blow like a gentle zephyr, revitalizing the lives of the people in the region, why isn’t it long before the harsh winds and storms of instability sweep everything into turmoil? To answer this, one can divide the factors into two categories: external and internal. On an external level, potent nations having direct influence over regional transformations prefer to interact with cohesive groups or organizations that form the backbone of power and can create predictable conditions for them, rather than engaging with frail and unstable administrations. In this regard, the military establishment in Pakistan, the rule of the Supreme Jurist in Iran, and akin governments in the region are viewed as desirable systems by major powers.
However, the primary factor in this context is internal, not external, and should be accorded priority.
Internally, a number of elements have obstructed the formation of genuine democracy in these territories. Firstly, there hasn’t been sufficient theoretical development in favor of democracy in these societies to sideline the anti-democratic narratives from both the right-wing and left-wing.
Secondly, forces committed to democracy, which themselves should be embodiments of democratic ethos, have not surfaced in this region, and many who claim to be advocates of democracy do not live out democratic values in their practical lives. Thirdly, the embedding of democracy necessitates education, both within the educational system and at the societal institutional level.
Democracy is a modern phenomenon that must be learned and practiced in everyday life, yet such an education is largely absent from the public sphere.
Fourthly, democracy is the offspring of mature societies that manifests itself in the individuality of people; individuals who have freed themselves from their self-imposed insignificance.
In a place where collective identity overshadows individual identity, and the independence of thought and choice are not recognized, democracy struggles to take root.
Fifthly, the lack of emergence of political leaders and elites who prioritize the institutionalization of democracy over their own political gains is another stumbling block. Such leaders, like the jewels of Jawaharlal Nehru, Nelson Mandela, and Lee Kuan Yew, have managed to chart new paths for their people by leading societies similar to ours.
The experience of Pakistan teaches us that without a democracy supported by strong democratic institutions, political and social crises will not let go of nations, denying them the chance to achieve stability, development, prosperity, and sustainable progress.”