Democracy or Dictatorship: Common Man’s Perspective
March 25, 2011
A day beginning with disturbing as well as amusing scenes of the ex- minster for religious affairs being arrested for corruption and ending with thundering threats by PML N to the government, is meanwhile all too common for us Pakistanis. The three years of the current government are marked with a number of Cs: Catchphrases, Conflicts and Corruption. And the combination of these Cs has only added to the frustrations of the common man besides aggravating the basic issues of governance. Such a situation with increasing terrorist activities and drastic economic conditions has prompted comparisons of the government with the days of General Musharraf.
This in itself is an alarming situation as the frustrated masses are calling upon the government to stand down and hold early elections as the government has miserably failed to deliver and fulfill the promises it made soon after coming into power. On the other hand, the self proclaimed revolutionaries, notably Altaf Hussain, are calling upon the army to take over the responsibility of supporting a revolution in Pakistan. This scenario is has led to a torrid situation for the government.
Shimon Peres once said “Television has made dictatorship impossible, but democracy unbearable.” This quote on one hand highlights the negativity of both dictatorship and democracy, but on the other, indicates that democracy is a lesser evil than dictatorship. Media boom has brought a mammoth social change in Pakistan. Any person associated with the government is held accountable to the masses through evolving media of Pakistan. It is very difficult to overlook the misgovernance and corruption in the presence of the current private electronic media. Every incident exposed by the media has made it unbearable for the masses to ignore the inability and mismanagement of the current government. The “Roti Kapra Makan” slogan used by the PPP government was nothing but a phrase used to dwell on popular support. The Reconciliation philosophy, initiated by Benazir Bhutto, was implemented, but only for personal gains of the ruling elite. The change promised by the ruling parties before the elections, proved to be a pie in the sky.
A daily- wage worker is neither concerned with the high level meetings taking place in five star hotels, nor is he interested in the much-hyped 18th amendment. The only thing that the common man is seized with is to ensure two meals a day for his family, basic health and perhaps better education opportunities. Democracy or dictatorship matter little to the economically marginalized masses. For them mere survival is the most pressing issue at hand. Keeping this thing in mind, the current government is not enjoying the popularity which the Musharraf regime used to enjoy in its initial phase. All developed states have laid down their foundations on strong political structure along with providing basic facilities to its citizens, but the current government has not made a substantive progress in this regards. The increasing protocol culture is another criticism made on the current government that has sustained even in adverse economic situation.
Further adding to the miseries of a common man, the terrorist attacks are frequently haunting the lower class. The basic commodities such as rice, flour, sugar and edible oil are increasingly getting out of the common man’s reach. Government has little control over prices, or even on smuggling of food items to Afghanistan via Torkham border that has in turn resulted in inflation and added to the spiral of raging prices. Most of government jobs in all the provinces usually go to those affiliated with ruling parties. Those who are not affiliated to any party, even if talented and skilled, are forced to bribe for getting jobs. Philanthropists with no party affiliations usually have little chance of benefiting from the national and foreign resources meant for socio-economic development. Opposition itself is playing a Wait and Watch game, knowing the extension of current government would benefit them in the long run.
The above mentioned issues are just a few reflections on the plight of the common man. Yet many other factors, such as the target killings in Karachi, Balochistan revolt and load shedding crisis add to the ineptness of the present government. There won’t be a single person supporting the revival of Dictatorship in Pakistan, yet many commoners are of the opinion that the dictatorship era provided them with better living opportunities and they were at ease. Democracy is a cornerstone for development of any state or society and dictatorship should not even be considered a last option. But if democracy in present form continues, the man on the street would obviously grow impatient with the rulers and probably would not care as to who comes next. The man on the street needs food, shelter and education for the family and would probably favor anybody who ensures these fundamental needs. Although the current government has had a few achievements to its name, such as the NFC award, Swat Operation and the 18th amendment, these achievements cannot substitute the basic necessities of a common man and ignoring these can prove to be a last nail in the coffin for the current government.