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Doubt over Democracy!

New Delhi, Mon, 17 Dec 2007 Deepak Mohanty

Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf finally lifted the state emergency after keeping the nation and international community in speculations over the reinstation of democratic set up in the country. However, the doubt over a free and fair general election is still clouding the democratic facet with an attempt to amend constitution and also there are no efforts visible to facilitate media.

Many believe that it’s a positive effort at least from the President but political parties and advocates in Pakistan believe that it’s nothing but an eye wash, and in no way going to bring any change in Musharraf’s dictatorship or a respect to civil rights.

Both the former Prime Ministers Nawaz Sharif and Benazir Bhutto agreed to participate in the upcoming Jan 08 election in a seat adjustment situation but they too know that Musharraf’s constitutional amendment clearly guards the dictatorial onus thereby leaving nothing for people in a democratic set up. It can be viewed as a lack of his seriousness for a smooth transition to democracy.

What the most important factor in a democracy is a free media, as it represents the voice of people and also the sole medium to make communication with the State and mass in common. But with media restraint and at a time when human rights have been in suppression for too long, a greater freedom of expression is far from certain.

Undoubtedly, to a great extent Musharraf has failed to impress the people of Pakistan as nobody knows what does this mean when television, newspaper are banned for free expression; public opinion remains the same. International community sees it as a positive change as according to them Musharraf would be able to control terrorisms more acutely but the ground realty is far from normal.

Major Pak opposition parties failed to reach an agreement as Nawaz Sharif and Benazir Bhutto along with others decided to join the election fore after the All-Parties Democratic Movement with demands like reinstatement of deposed judges of nation’s higher judiciary and the restoration of 1973 constitution. However, the constitutional amendments not only narrowed the credibility of the constitution but also left a strong uncertainty in the minds of general public.

Hence, Lifting of emergency is not enough for Musharraf; he needs to first let all the pillars of democracy function independently without any martial interference and above all the freedom of media, which is the essence of every democracy.

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