Democracy is endangered in Pakistan, feel analysts

Last Updated: Wed, Jan 16, 2013 12:12 hrs

Heated debate has unleashed amongst Pakistani analysts about whether democracy has just been upended in Pakistan, following the decision of the Supreme Court to order the arrest of Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf in the midst of major protests in Islamabad expressing frustration at the government.

Pakistan's democratic development has frequently been interrupted by coups. The country has never had an elected government complete a full term in office. The current government is only a few months away from being the first to reach that milestone, but the court order now leaves that in doubt, reports the Christian Science Monitor.

Those decrying the court move argue that it looks like an opportunist move - timed right before elections and during a major protest - to turn out the government. Supporters of the court decision, however, say another pillar of democracy is at stake: the Constitution and the rule of law.

For some analysts, the great shame is that all institutional stakeholders have sullied their democratic credentials over the years, leaving no side a trustworthy standard-bearer.

Zarrar Khuhro, a columnist and editor of a weekly English news magazine, said the great tragedy is that democracy has become the best scapegoat in the hands of the government. Every time government officials are questioned on legitimate grounds, they claim that democracy is under attack, he added. They have cried wolf so many times that now, when the wolf is actually at the door, no one really cares, he further added.

Khuhro said the government should undergo some self-reflection about its poor governance and corruption that have spawned protests and court challenges.

What Pakistan does suffer from, according to analysts, is a bad example of leadership.

Anwar Mansoor Khan, former attorney general of Pakistan, said the country has seen so many years of military rule that politicians are overawed by their authority and power, and sometimes, just like military, they think they are also above the law. He resigned in 2010 after the government refused to listen to his advice to abide by the decision of the apex court to ask Swiss authorities to reopen corruption cases against President Zardari. (ANI)

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