Apr 302008

A mature democracy is a system in which the ruling elites can get away with everything. By implication, an amateur democratic system is where the ruling elites can get away with many things but still remain vulnerable to certain mass uprising
Recently the US Congress passed two bills that inspired me to redefine a mature democracy as a system in which the ruling elites can get away with everything. By implication, an amateur democratic system is where the ruling elites can get away with many things but still remain vulnerable to certain mass uprisings.

Furthermore, the rulers of mature democratic system like the US cannot understand why the ruling elite of amateur democracy cannot implement unpopular decisions to safeguard their interest. Probably, this is the main reason why the US cannot appreciate why Mian Nawaz Sharif cannot back out from his stance on reinstating the deposed judiciary and why Asif Ali Zardari cannot simply say no to the lawyers’ demand.

President Bush is carrying on his Iraq war despite his approval rating being in the teens. It has been this way for some time but it does not bother him even if eighty percent of the population opposes him. He still remains the democratic leader carrying out ‘the will of the masses.’ He knows the US is a ‘mature’ democracy where people do not revolt even if his imposed war results in the killing of dozens every day.

It is not only President Bush who understands the system this way; the US Congress also follows the same principle. That is how it has passed a bill which will provide assistance worth five billion dollars to builders and developers who are allegedly suffering from the downturn of the housing market.

Everyone knows that millionaires and billionaires builders/developers were the main scoundrels for creating the real estate bubble. And, yet the Democrats and the Republicans joined hands to help these poor millionaires, probably because these rich builders/developers had stopped contributing towards their election campaigns.

Another glaring example is the law passed by the Congress which exempts corporations from criminal prosecution. Democrats and Republicans agreed that the corporations cannot commit a crime and therefore they cannot be prosecuted. The theory is that the corporation has no mind like an individual and hence cannot contemplate a crime.

The opponents of this law argue that if the corporation has no mind like a human being it should not enjoy constitutional rights granted to an individual. But who cares? The Congress passes such laws and the public remains indifferent.

Whether it is the Iraq war, banks, builder/developers or the ever-deceptive corporations, the US ruling elites safeguards their own interests at the tax-payers’ expense. Common citizens remain uninformed or do not care much to take any action on such outrageous pro-rich legislations. The ruling elite, divided between Democrats and Republicans keep on taking turns to occupy the White House, Capitol Hill and other seats of power.

The US elections are sound-byte competitions. Despite the debilitating Iraq war and economic ruin the Republicans can carry the day because they have superior sound-byters. Therefore, John McCain, promising to carry on Bush’s infamous legacy can still win.

In this backdrop, the US expects that elites of an allied or client state accommodate unpopular decisions. They wonder why Nawaz Sharif and Asif Zardari cannot back out from their promise to reinstate the judiciary. After all, Bush backed out from every pledge he made in the 2000 election and still won again in 2004. Why cannot Pakistani leaders follow his lead? They do not appreciate that Pakistan is an amateurish democracy where people keep track of pledges and sometimes revolt too.

The US may not understand the dynamics of the amateur democracy of Pakistan but Mian Nawaz Sharif and Asif Ali Zardari know that they will have to pay for backing out from their commitments.

As a matter of fact in the next few days if it becomes clear that Asif Ali Zardari is firmly against the reinstatement of the Chief Justice, Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, it will be have repercussions for his long-term future plans.

It will mean that Mr Zardari has decided that he is not interested in national politics because he and his party can only remain viable if they can win a sizable number of seats in Punjab where the restoration of judiciary is a main issue.

Despite the sympathy wave due to Benazir Bhutto’s death, his party lost ground in Punjab in the last election because of his confusing stand on the restoration of judiciary. His party will be washed out if the same mistake is repeated.

Wrongly or rightly, for the common people, the restoration of judiciary means reinstating Iftikhar Chaudhry. If Asif Zardari and his party are perceived to be opposing it, then they should make the best of the short period of time they have in power. Or they can concentrate on the politics of Sindh where they can win about 30 seats at best.

However, if Asif Zardari and his colleagues reinstate Mr Chaudhry they will get another chance to regroup in Punjab. This round in the political ring is already won by Mian Nawaz Sharif and Asif Zardari cannot do much about it. He can only hope he will get another chance in the ring.

The US may not understand the limitations of Asif Zardari and keep pressing him for opposing Mr Chaudhry without realising that Pakistan is not a mature democracy where the ruling elite can get away with everything. But, Asif Ali Zardari should understand it!

The writer can be reached at manzurejaz@yahoo.com

Courtesy: Daily times, 30/4/2008


 Posted by at 5:43 pm

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