Hammad Siddiqui, guest blogger, is a Deputy Country Head with CIPE Pakistan. He is capacity builder expert, trainer and change leader. He is one of the most popular bloggers in Pakistan. You can visit his blog by clicking here.
A few days back, I asked my facebook friends a simple question. How did Pakistan celebrate the International Day of Democracy?
The most interesting response I received was: “We are still running the Beta version of Democracy :)”
Not encouraging at all! I thought to share my concerns with readers, hence this blog!
Pakistan together with other democratic countries celebrated the International Day of Democracy. This day is celebrated on 15th September and its purpose is to encourage governments around the world to strengthen programs devoted to democracy.
This year, in his message, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said:
“On this International Day of Democracy, lets us redouble our efforts to support all people, in particular the young – the drivers of this year’s momentous events – in making democracy a working reality.. This day belongs to them. Let us honor their commitment to a lifelong journey in democracy.”
I was born in 1964, can’t classify myself under “Youth”. But in my recent days, I have been heavily interacting with youth from across Pakistan, both from well off and economically deprived class. I generally seek their input on their understanding of what democracy means for them.
Having listened to a wide cross-section of youth, I am afraid, the situation is not encouraging at all! Pakistani Youth is quite confused with the term democracy. I appreciate that right from its independence in 1947, Pakistan has been on the rollercoaster of democracy. Three military takeovers not only destroyed the institutions, also so called democracy imposed by military dictators confused Pakistanis with the true meanings and feelings of democracy. However, during democratic governments also the true feeling of democracy was not developed. Perhaps, democratic governments used the opportunity and promoted their own values rather than promoting the concept of democracy!
Some readers may disagree with me, but the fact of the matter is that none of our major political parties have had formal elections in the past, and I do not foresee party election in the future too! Moreover, in Pakistan politics is family business! Most politicians encourage their younger siblings to take charge of their regional politics, hence discouraging an average youngster to take part in the political process.
Having said that, Pakistan was part of celebrations! We had a message from our President . Lets also analyze how a common Pakistani celebrated the 15th of September in Pakistan:
Sind: Most part of Sind province in under floods. People are struggling to find food and shelter, crops have been damaged and cattle have been drowned.
Punjab: The province is under Dengue outbreak. Diagnostic laboratories are choked with patients. Hospitals are short of beds and facilities to take more patients. Platelets infusions are short in supply. Five more people died on 15th September.
KPK: Bomb blast in Lower Dir district at a funeral killing 27 and injuring 67.
Baluchistan: Water scarcity in the province is becoming a major issue that could lead to mass migration.
Going back to UN Secretary General’s message clearly reflects the futuristic approach. World is clearly considering youth as driving force for the future of democracy, are we doing anything to at least induce the concept in Pakistan? Perhaps not enough!