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Democracy and Crisis of Democracy in Pakistan

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1 Democracy and Crisis of Democracy in Pakistan
By: Jami Chandio Two Day Seminar on “Human Rights, Rule of Law and Sindh Resource Center, Qasimabad, Hyderabad, Sindh, Pakistan July, 24th -26th 2010

2 Part-1: What is Democracy?
“Democracy is a political form of government carried out either directly by the people (direct democracy) or by means of elected representatives of the people (representative democracy). The term comes from the Greek: δημοκρατία - (dēmokratía) "rule of the people", which was coined from δῆμος (dêmos) "people" and κράτος (krátos) "power", in the middle of the fifth-fourth century BC to denote the political systems then existing in some Greek city-states, notably Athens following a popular uprising in 508 BC. Even though there is no, universally accepted specific definition of 'democracy', equality and freedom have been identified as important characteristics of democracy since ancient times. These principles are reflected in all citizens being equal before the law and having equal access to power. For example, in a representative democracy, every vote has equal weight, no restrictions can apply to anyone wanting to become a representative, and the freedom of its citizens is secured by legitimized rights and liberties which are generally protected by a constitution”. OR

3 What is Democracy? Democracy comes from the Greek word, “demos,” meaning people. In democracies, it is the people who hold sovereign power over legislator and government. Although nuances apply to the world's various democracies, certain principles and practices distinguish democratic government from other forms of government. Democracy is government in which power and civic responsibility are exercised by all citizens, directly or through their freely elected representatives. Democracy is a set of principles and practices that protect human freedom; it is the institutionalization of freedom. Democracy rests upon the principles of majority rule, coupled with individual and minority rights. All democracies, while respecting the will of the majority, zealously protect the fundamental rights of individuals and minority groups.

4 What is Democracy? Democracies guard against all-powerful central governments and decentralize government to regional and local levels, understanding that local government must be as accessible and responsive to the people as possible. Democracies understand that one of their prime functions is to protect such basic human rights as freedom of speech and religion; the right to equal protection under law; and the opportunity to organize and participate fully in the political, economic, and cultural life of society. Democracies conduct regular free and fair elections open to all citizens. Elections in a democracy cannot be facades that dictators or a single party hide behind, but authentic competitions for the support of the people. Democracy subjects governments to the rule of law and ensures that all citizens receive equal protection under the law and that their rights are protected by the legal system.

5 What is Democracy? Democracies are diverse, reflecting each nation's unique political, social, and cultural life. Democracies rest upon fundamental principles, not uniform practices. Citizens in a democracy not only have rights, they have the responsibility to participate in the political system that, in turn, protects their rights and freedoms. Democratic societies are committed to the values of tolerance, cooperation, and compromise. Democracies recognize that reaching consensus requires compromise and that it may not always be attainable. In the words of Mahatma Gandhi, “intolerance is itself a form of violence and an obstacle to the growth of a true democratic spirit.” (The following one-pager is taken from the U.S. Department of State publication, Principles of Democracy.) Read more:

6 Democracy: Global Statistics

7 Democracy: Global Statistics

8 Democracy: Global Statistics

9 Democracy: Global Statistics

10 Part-2: Ingredients of Democracy
Freedom (of thought, believe, expression, Speech, Debate, Inquiry, assembly, association, legitimate profession, movement…) Citizen’s Rights ( Human, political and civic…) Majority not majoritarianism (Majority rule with the protection of minority rights and participatory decision making)

11 Ingredients of Democracy
Participation Pluralism (Ideological, ethnic, linguistic, religious…) Political Tolerance Rule of Law (Equality before Law) Minority rights ( religious, ethnic, linguistic )

12 Ingredients of Democracy
Accountability (parliamentary or democratic ways not through discriminatory undemocratic ways like NAB in Pakistan) Transparency ( Access to information, Good Governance…)

13 Part-3: Vehicles and Tools of Democracy
Written constitution Democratic Political parties Parliament/assemblies Free and fair regular elections Independent election commission

14 Vehicles and Tools of Democracy
Independent Judiciary Free and Responsible media Vibrant civil society Responsible citizenry Continuous democratic process Continuity of democratic discourse, political competition, accountability through elections and responsible media, alternative solutions, changing leadership….

15 Part-4: Deficits of Democracy in Pakistan
Lack of sustainability of democracy Centralism and Lack of democratic federalism/ Week Constituent Units Week democratic institutions Political parties, assemblies, conflict resolution mechanisms i.e. CCI, IRSA, CDWP, ECNEC

16 Deficits of Democracy in Pakistan
Lack of equality among the provinces Opportunities, development/HDI, distribution of resources i.e. financial and natural resources which includes water, importance in decision making at center, services, bureaucracy, judiciary, representation in federal agencies… Lack of democratic culture

17 Way Forward Real transfer of power from military to political institutions Depoliticizing and ensuring transparency in military Sustainability of constitutional rule Decentralization of centralist federal authorities through democratic and inclusive federalism based on 1940 Lahore resolution Autonomous provincial constituent units

18 Way Forward Empowering and effective role of senate
Effective role of parliamentary committees and inter-provincial institutions i.e. CCI, IRSA, ECNEC, CDWP Good Governance and Rule of law Responsive and responsible governments Respecting diversity Protecting language and cultural of all nations and ethnic groups of Pakistan

19 Way Forward Providing equitable social justice to under developed and marginalized regions, communities and nationalities Strengthening of civil society Empowering the individual

20 Long Live Democracy Thanks

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