Jamil Junejo, Hyderabad
Before I embark on the way of discussing the topic at length, I want to acknowledge that what so ever, I m going to express here, its major credit goes to the training conducted by CPCS (Centre for peace and civil society) Hyderabad on the topic mentioned above.
This article will be, no doubt, demonstration of my own analysis, observation, and study. But however fact remains that its is mainly shadow of what I learnt in the training.CPSC is one of the NGOs in Pakistan which has made the general public to change its old perception that NGOs free the government from its responsibilities rather than exhorts it to discharge the responsibilities. Now a days, various NGOs like NDI, CCE Islamabad and CPCS and some others have been extensively working to politically sensitizing the public where by creating pressure on government to perform its responsibilities rather than freeing it.
Now let’s go the real business. Democray, Political audit and responsible citizenry are interrelated with one and other. They are each ones supporter, and ground producers to develop to maximum length. Let’s discuss them one by one.
Democracy is collective term that entails wide range of concepts.It is ,by and large, name of mindset, behaviour, theory, practice, culture, and last but not least ,a system. But in all these areas it is coupled with the values like, tolerance, cooperation,competition, respect for difference of opinions, sense of responsibility, acceptance of majority rule, but respect for minority rights and sense of respect for rule of law.
Following are some major ingredients which altogether makes a strong democracy. Let’s discuss.
1. Democratic and secular constitution.
Fo the development of democratic process and implementation of democratic valaues,it is very necessary for all the democratic states to frame secular constitution regardless of the fact whether or not concerned society is secular, because for some time secular society translate itself into secular constitutin,but for some time secular constitution creates space in the conservative society for secular behavior and action. India, being a most extremist society but having secular constitution, has been creating space for the development of secular culture.Democracy, apart from being other things ,is rule of majority. Therefore there arises high possibility of usurpation of rights of minorities and suppression of their voices at the hands of majority.Inorder to avoid this possibility, a secular constitution includes such provisions which guarantee the minority rights of every kind, and ensure their respected existence in every sphere of life.
Apart from secular, it should be democratic. It implies that it should entail such provisions which guarantee the development of overall democratic transition. More ever, it guarantees freedom of choice, organization and assembly. If it fails to provide all theses things; certainly, it will neutralize the democratic process and resultantly provide fertile ground for the existence of totalitarianism.
2. Existence of political parties.
Existence of political parties is very important ingredient of Democracy.Democray can not exist without it. Political parties translate various values and aspects of democracy into practical shape. They work to institutionalize the diversity of opinions, that is the beauty of democracy, work as channel to elect representatives ; as mean whereby power is transformed, as platform to mobilize ,sensitize and educate public; a bridge between public and government, and works as very effective mean for acquisition of rights from government said in the Contract(Constitution.). However, Inoorder to perform all such works in letter and sprit, Political parties need some values and principles to operate behind their structure and practices.
Firstly, a political party should transform the ideological strengths of public into organizational shape, should further transform its organizational entity into political entity and should develop strong coordinating between lower and higher tires. If it lacks all this, this will virtually create space for totalitarian elements to emerge. It has been proved that, apart from other reasons behind the overt and covert rule of dictators in Pakistan, absence of strong coordination between high tires and lower tires of political parties, their failure to translate ideological strength into organizational shape, works also as a potent cause. Secondly, a political party should be democratic in its nature. There should be regular elections for all the office bearers including Chairperson. This culture mainly lacks in almost all the political parties of Pakistan. They invincibly argue that leadership is non democratic in its nature. But ,it is not true ;western political parties and their changing leaders on regular basis and their effective performance have explode this myth. Thirdly, a political party should have parameter which prefer loyalty, ability, and seniorship to Influentially .Such trend of Preferring influentially is violation of democratic values. It weakens the culture of competition, breeds nepotism, and supports incompetency.Thus, it obstructs the democratic process. Fourthly, a political party should allot much proportion of its finance to Districts and Taluka level, for, these are the level which are in contact with public. Appropriate finance will enable them to conduct different programmes where by it educates, sensitizes and mobilizes the public. Thus it fosters activeness, sensitization, participation and mobilization which are necessary for democratic process, in general and development of political party in particular. Lastly, a political party should have highly trained staff in headquarter loaded with all the modern managerial skills in order create intimate coordination between higher and lower tiers so as to leave no space for emergence of totalitarian elements.
3. Political plus democratic Society.
Existence of political society in any state is very supportive towards democracy. Because, the binding force among the actors of political society is thoughts and interests. It breaks the narrow circles of kinship, cast ,clan,tribres whose binding force is blood or sense of relativeness which hinders the politicization of masses because politicization makes masses to transcend the limits of blood relationships and come up to create relationship of thoughts and interests. Such relationship leads them to unite and become dynamic at mass level to collectively struggle for collective interests.Politicisation creates critical and political mass, which resists the every immoral, illegal, activity done by either state actors or non state actors, through writing, protests, dialogues, processions and strikes. In this way politicization becomes very supportive towards democratic progress.
Apart form political society, strong democracy highly needs democratic society which is imbued with all the values of democracy like, tolerance, cooperation, respaect for law ,acceptance of majority rule and respect of minority rights. Democratic society coupled with all these values will translate itself into strong democratic political institutions. Indeed, nature of structure of society translates itself into nature of structure of political institutions. That is why it said that democracy is not external but internal entity. You can not plant it like a tree but establish it through democratization of public. Feudal Ramos in an interview with News Week has beautifully said “To establish democratic institutions, democratically oriented people and overall culture of democracy and rule of law is very difficult if efforts are coming from outside. It is more enduringly established if it is coming from among the people.”
4. Sovereign parliament.
Existence of parliament is the practical expressing of the principle that democracy is direct or indirect rule of peple.People electing their representatives rule through parliament.Therefore,It is extremely indispensable to make parliament as much sovereign as possible in order to ensure that people rule the country, they themselves decide their fate, they decide each and every thing concerned with their future and existence. If decisions which are concerned with the being of state and people, are made out side of parliament, it will certainly mean that it is not rule of people but of particular authority. The more parliament is sovereign, the more democracy will be strong.
Political audit and responsible citizenry.
Apart from above mentioned ingredients of democracy, political audit is also very indispensable for powerful democracy.Politcal audit simply means to assess or evaluate the actions, policies and overall performance of government, parliament and political parties through discourse, writing, understanding ,expression, protest, last but not least, processions. This is not easy task. In order to perform such responsibility a responsible citizebenry is required. It is also responsible citizenry which separate its self from irresponsible citizenry and thus constitute civil society. Therefore to deal with question of civil society will mean to deal with question of responsible citizenery.Now the question arises that what is responsible citizenry.
A responsible citizenry mean conscious, active, and dynamic citizens coupled with familiarity of civil and political rights and imbued with sprit of resistance individually and in collaborating with party members or other people irrespective of thinking their political, social and economic background. In this way, responsible citizenry can operate in three ways. Individually, in a political party, and civil society organizations.