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January 8, 2021

Pildat dialogue on how democracy fared in 2020

National

January 8, 2021

ISLAMABAD: The analysts at the Pakistan Institute of Legislative Development and Transparency (Pildat) virtual dialogue on how the democracy feared in 2020 call for constitutional rules of game needed to reduce political polarisation and improving quality of democracy in Pakistan.

In a Pildat dialogue on how has democracy fared in 2020, it was agreed that quality of democracy in 2020 has been far from perfect and that Constitution must be the guiding principle in setting rules of the game to address rising political polarisation and improving democratic governance in the country.

Panelists at the Pildat Virtual Forum on ‘how has 2020 impacted democratic governance and quality of democracy in Pakistan’ was streamed live across Pildat’s social media pages, included ex-senator and ex-information minister Javed Jabbar, analyst Syed Talat Hussain, president and founder of Pildat Ahmed Bilal Mehboob, and its joint director Aasiya Riaz. Javed Jabbar said he endorses the point on absence of effective local governments as a major weakness of the system of democracy in Pakistan. While military’s role in politics is criticised, even if it were to be removed, Pakistan’s administrative structures are so weak that democratic governance cannot be improved without major reforms.

He said multiple rounds of questions were posed at panelists on models of democracy in Pakistan might look at, at what is the central issue weakening democracy in Pakistan, role of political parties, political polarisation and the possible way forward for improving democratic governance in the country.

Syed Talat Hussain said all international indices on democracy, justice and media freedom in 2020 paint a bleak picture of quality of democracy during the past year. He said how little attention prime minister has given to parliament and how much federal government has relied on ordinances in 2020 instead of legislation also points to deteriorating quality of democracy while kidnapping of IG Sindh presents a picture of rule of law in Pakistan. Aasiya Riaz said in 2020, world has seen autocratic tendencies in many democracies, Pakistan too has seen institutionalisation of its hybrid governance model be it in the shape of NCOC, elimination of locust threat or polio vaccination. She said birth of PDM as an alliance by opposition political parties appears as the only silver lining for democracy in 2020.

Ahmed Bilal Mehboob believed that quality of democracy in Pakistan has deteriorated in 2020. He said parliament and provincial assemblies have not played the required role of oversight especially in managing the impact of coronavirus. A parliamentary committee formed on COVID-19 highly underperformed. Lack of effective local governments across the country is another weak link in Pakistan’s system of democratic governance. He also believed that it is the first time that hybrid regime in Pakistan is being challenged by political parties which was a positive indicator for democracy in 2020.