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EDITORIAL: Regrettably, it is not too hard to make sense of the PDM (Pakistan Democratic Movement) government’s feverish rush to pass legislation upon legislation through the house – 54 bills in four days by the last count – in its last few days in office.

It’s not that hardened politicians don’t understand that parliament exists for the express purpose of debate, discussion, improvisation, etc., all in the interest of the people, before any legislation can be finalised. It’s just that they’ve played the game long enough to know how to be politically correct enough to stick to the letter of the law and still ruthlessly violate its spirit when it suits them.

And that is precisely what is happening. Everybody knows that the PDM coalition had ample time in office to pass all these bills through proper process. They also know that the government is doing it now, exploiting a compromised house, just because it knows that it can get away with it. And the fact that top politicians at the helm, who never tire of counting their so-called sacrifices for the sake of democracy, are themselves making a mockery of this institution does not seem to bother them in the least.

Some of the government’s initiatives have been truly shocking. Proposed amendments to the Official Secrets Act that sailed through the lower house, for example, would make the country look more like a police state than a democratic dispensation – designating ordinary citizens as “enemies” without solid evidence, searching personal property and belongings without warrants, use of force upon resistance, etc. It’s a small miracle that the said bill was blocked in Senate where too many Senators, from both sides of the aisle, would have none of it.

While the government has faced criticism for such steps even from within the ruling coalition, it’s a shame that far too few politicians have offered serious resistance even as democracy as an institution is being hollowed out right in front of everybody’s eyes. It seems we have forgotten that it takes more than holding elections and parading MPs in the house to make a real democracy.

The government is always supposed to be at the service of the people and their needs, and never be able to lord over them; hence the term “representative government”. Now, once again, we’re seeing parliament pandering to the interests of the political elite, even in its dying days in power, as the people face the worst living conditions in the republic’s history.

Pakistanis are no strangers to authoritarian government, of course, so they know how it feels when the state apparatus revolves around the powerful few and the rest of the country is put in its place.

And, truth be told, what is happening now is, in too many ways, a worse exploitation of the people and their mandate than even some military regimes that have run this Islamic republic in the past. Perhaps, when the dust settles, whichever party is chosen to represent the people in the august house will take the trouble of making laws that prevent those in power from leveraging the system for their own purposes.

The political elite must also realise that the Pakistan of today is different from the past. Thanks to revolutions in information technology and popular media, people are a lot more aware of their rights, especially when they are stolen, than they used to be.

And when they are treated like helpless bystanders, they have a very potent tool at their disposal – the power of the vote – which they can, and most certainly will, use to express their feelings.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023


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KU Aug 07, 2023 11:42am
There are many wishes that the government would have or could have or should have realized, but this is what it does for the people..... ♩♪♫♬♭ (trumpet sounds) An announcement by the monarchy, ‘’The subjects shall be pleased to know that the kings have passed the bill on the establishment of Gun and Country Club Islamabad for the rich and famous, the subjects can stand on the roadside and look at this achievement, and they can enter the premises, when and if they have enough money, but probably it’s better that they don’t enter…….on second thought……they are not allowed.’’
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Asad Khursheed Aug 08, 2023 09:55am
To call current government "democracy", are we oblivious?
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