Democracy in Pakistan: Value Change and Challenges of Institution Building

Publication Year : 1998

Democracy as a system of governance and interest representation demands respect for dissent and opposition. It recognises the principle of majority rule and guarantees protection of minorities. Democracy also builds faith in electoral contestation to gain public office and gives legitimacy to political parties as primary instruments for acquisition and transfer of power from one set of individuals to another. Unfortunately, despite the significance of the above elements, no serious studies have been undertaken on Pakistan’s experimentation with democracy. Given a history of weak party system and prolonged military rule, most of the studies focus on the military, political parties, constitutional history, or in a descriptive way, attribute the failure of democracy to the inadequacies of the politicians [Ahmed (1987); Rizvi (1987); Callard (1957) and Afzal (1976)]. It is only recently that some theoretically meaningful and rigorous empirical writings have appeared on elections, procedures and practices of electoral contestation and on problems of transition from authoritarian regimes towards democracy [Waseem (1989); Wilder (1995); Talyor (1992); Rais (1997) and Shafqat (1997)].