The so-called Inqalab and Azadi marches have heated up the debates at different societal and political levels. Nobody could guess what will come out of the ongoing political strife, but one thing it has come up with is the polarization of society on political discourse. It has not created it; it has raised it to the surface. It already existed deep within the society.
Broadly there are two narratives as it comes to political process and democracy. One asserts that democracy and democratic institutions are absurd; it shows less trust on democracy. It refers the frail democracy, fragile democratic institutions and corruption to support its argument. It may be called as ‘anti-democratic narrative’. The second narrative stands for democracy, democratic institutions and democratic values. It avows its support for democracy despite of its being feeble. It puts trust in evolution of democratic process and believes that the solution of weak democracy is more democracy. They don’t abuse democracy due to the bad performance of politicians and democratic institutions. It may be called as “democratic narrative”.
Modern world has considerable developments in terms of democracy and democratic institutions. Democracy has strengthened itself and has become an icon of goodness, welfare and accountability. Nobody could dare to swim against the tide and democracy is the tide. Disgracing democracy is considered to be ridiculous in those societies. It did not happen overnight, it took almost centuries to reach such sanctity for democracy as a political narrative.
Conversely, the majority of the Muslim states are doomed to chronic dictatorship. Radicalism in the Muslim societies is also on increase, it claims that democracy is not compatible to religion. Democracy and democratic institutions happened not be flourishing and remained fragile in these countries and Pakistan is no exception. Despite of constitutional democracy, repeated elections and number of political parties, democracy is still meager and docile. Ironically, it always remains under threat. It is largely due to scanty and meager public support for democratic narrative. Though the people do participate in elections and electoral activities but democracy remained unfortunate as it could not get substantial eminence in society. It has yet to become the
norm and the chances are bleak. On the other hand the support for the democratic narrative is on increase though quite dawdling. It has to endure a long time to touch the ultimate victory.
The weak democratic narrative has different cultural, economic and historical reasons and explanations. From the very beginning of its birth democracy in Pakistan could not aver itself as a political narrative. Political parties even the founding political party could not prop up against anti-democratic narrative. Moreover Pakistan could not have tangible and substantial economic development. Even if there happened to be economic development the fruits remained untouchable for the masses. The governments even the political governments could not manifest the ideals of development into reality. The democratic narrative has not been cherished at societal level. It couldn’t become the norm.
On the contrary anti-democratic narrative remained quite popular and widespread among the masses, religious groups and even the political parties. Democratic values and institutions could not get considerable deference .The rhetoric of Imran and Qadri is the palpable and obvious reflection of this narrative. Democracy, constitution and democratic institutions are publically mocked and the slogans against democratic institutions are openly chanted by the leaders and demonstrators both. They drum up against the democratic institutions. It is not so simple; it has serious implications on society and political discourse. Unfortunately there are people in media, political parties and religious outfits who are quite forthcoming in this regard and seem propagating the narrative consciously or sub-consciously.
It is quite dismissive and depressing but the counter narrative which along with demanding reforms, respect democracy and democratic institutions still exists. This has always existed but the recent years have seen swift and considerable developments in it. Society has transformed itself many ways due to media especially social media, access to information, vibrant civil society and linkages to global community. This of course is the counter narrative. This is weaker than the other one. Despite of its being frail and feeble it is budding rapidly but it still has to go a long way to assert its presence. Almost all political parties’ unconditional support and Civil Society backup to democracy is undoubtedly a significant milestone. The practice must be sustainable, it has to become norm.
The people would never like democracy for the sake of democracy. The real strength of democratic narrative is social justice, provision of basic human needs, education, health and better service delivery. It will be ridiculous to expect it to grow in presence of the violation of fundamental human rights and detached ruling style. If democracy fails to deliver it is destined to be doomed. If democracy has to sustain, it has to deliver. That is the simplest formula. It has to take care of the public good and social welfare. For sustainable democracy reforms in political and administrative institutions are inevitable. It has to be bolstered by an effective and efficient administrative apparatus. Along with political democracy there has to be economic democratization. It has to pledge that it can heal the miseries of the people. Otherwise Pakistan will remain stuck between these narratives. The strife will turn even more vicious which may lead to anarchy or unrest.