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> Failure of Governance should not be seen as failure of Democracy
PILDAT Roundtable Discussion
April 25, 2011

Mid Term Assessment of the Quality of Democracy

Lahore, April 25;: Failure of governance should not be seen as a failure of democracy and democracy is the only way forward for Pakistan, stressed members of the PILDAT Democracy Assessment Group joined by other participants at a PILDAT Roundtable Discussion on How to Assess the Quality of Democracy in Pakistan in the backdrop of PILDAT Report on Mid-Term Assessment of the Quality of Democracy in Pakistan. Citizens participation is essential to making democracy work, they said.


Participants believed basic problems and concerns of masses should be addressed properly after which public will be interested in the election process. Dynastic rule in politics should come to an end to flourish true sense of democracy in the country. Institutions should remain within their limits while Parliament and Provincial Assemblies should show through their performance that they are supreme. Some observed that we see less democracy at play and more fear of dictatorship in the country at present. Others opined that for greater participation of educated middle classes, election expenses need to be reduced. Lower courts need to deliver justice. The country needs local Government system and hence elections should not be postponed any further. Members of Provincial Assembly also said that all political parties should vow today that no political party will join any military dictator in the future. Provincial autonomy, as a principle, should also be held dear and exercised. Democracy shouldn’t just reflect social stratification


PILDAT organized a Roundtable Discussion on Members of the Democracy Assessment Group present at the Roundtable included Mr. Ilahi Buksh Soomro, Former Speaker, National Assembly of Pakistan, Senator Mir Hasil Khan Bizenjo, Secretary General National Party, Dr. Hasan Askari Rizvi, Defence & Political Analyst, Mr. Mujib ur Rehman Shami, Editor in Chief Daily Pakistan, Mr. Iftikhar Ahmad, Anchorperson Geo News, Lt. Gen (Retd.) Talat Masood, Defence Analyst, Mr. Omar Khan Afridi, Former Federal Minister, Mr. Javed Hafiz, Former Ambassador, Ms. Khalida Ghaus, Executive Director SPDC, Sardar Khalid Ibrahim, Advocate, Mr. Cyril Almieda, Assistant Editor, Dawn, Mr. Ahmed Bilal Mehboob, Executive Director and Ms. Aasiya Riaz, Joint Director of PILDAT. A large number of members of the Provincial Assembly of the Punjab, columnists, political analysts, scholars, representatives of media and members from different walks of life participated in the Roundtable Discussion.


The Roundtable Discussion was opened by Mr. Ahmed Bilal Mehboob. In his opening remarks he said that PILDAT and DAG believe that democracy is a continuous process that requires time & patience while it cannot be achieved by elections alone; instead, it is built from within the societies. “Democratic practices can be compared but not prescribed, this process cannot be imported or exported but only can be supported,” said by Mr. Mehboob. Sharing the scores assigned by the Democracy Assessment Group, he said that the score increased from before 2008 to the end of 3rd Parliamentary year, March 15, 2011, from 40% to 46%. Highlighting the key challenges to the current scenario of democracy, he mentioned poor governance (Injustice, Merit Violation), poor economic management, deepening perception of corruption, insurgency and its after-effects, weak political parties with weak internal democracy, weak Parliamentary Oversight, weak public involvement & accountability and tussle between the State Institutions.


Emphasizing on the messages from the Democracy Assessment Group-DAG, Mr. Mehboob said that democracy is stronger than ever before in Pakistan; Judiciary is independent and assertive; media is independent and dynamic; opposition in the Parliament is involved positively; electoral reforms are in progress; provinces are empowered and civil society is more confident.