Democracy is nothing but a politician’s catch phrase

Published: January 18, 2013

Leaders have to come up from within us, from our roots, our kin. Until then, we will continue to be the fodder for another’s revolution. PHOTO: REUTERS

Our world today seems to be in a constant state of revolution. Somehow, revolution brings a romanticised solution to all that is wrong with a corrupt bureaucracy. 

Whoever promises the most drastic changes, the most extreme improvements, the most cacophonous, clamorous, and deafening rhetoric, is guaranteed a captive audience and an avid following.

One thing that these masters of spin can count on is the common man’s desperate desire for a better life, their despairing hope that the world has something finer to offer – if only they can find a charismatic, catalytic leader to make change happen for them.

We, the man on the street, also known as the citizen and the unit most in need of the aforementioned “better life”, are the most vocal advocates for a revolution.

According to public opinion, revolution will bring democracy, and with democracy will come peace, lawfulness, good fortune and prosperity.  What we fail to realise in our desperation is that a government of the people and for the people does not begin and end with democratically-held elections, but must continue on as democratic governance. These are assignments of accountability, not appointments of entitlement.

In our hunger for change we listen for the word “democracy,” which has become nothing more than the politician’s catch phrase, a perfunctory buzzword, a siren song. We fail to realise that democracy is a form of government for the people—and people are different in every country.

Thus, by default, the democracy of each country must be tailor made for its population and not the copy of another country’s governance. Laws necessary and successful in one thriving democracy might prove to be abject failures in another. This could be due to differences in culture, history, religion, and other myriad possibilities.

We have to study our chronicles, the good along with the bad.

We have to analyse what worked and what failed miserably within our own country to see what we want and what we desperately need.

When we look at democracy through a theoretical paradigm invented by the West, we see something that we yearn for, but which might not be the solution for us.

Our form of governance has to be as unique as our nation.

Instead of looking for a leader from among us, we look outward and upward for guidance, and so we have become a nation of followers. We will willingly march behind anyone who peddles a dream, but we never feel worthy enough to form a movement around our own dreams. So we pin our hopes and our hearts on anyone who is willing to lead us, never questioning loyalties, agendas, or ulterior motives. As a result, we are either left heartbroken and bitter, or continue fiercely loyal and blind to the obvious charade.

A revolution has to come from within the masses. We have to push away from the wall against which our backs have rested for the longest time. The elite lack the will to recast a state that seems to be working well for them. They may start the journey with an honest enthusiasm, but lose their convictions somewhere along the way.

Leaders have to come up from within us, from our roots, our kin. Until then, we will continue to be the fodder for another’s revolution.

Read more by Zeba here or follow her on Twitter @zebansari

Zeba Ansari

Zeba Ansari

A graduate of Bolan Medical College, Zeba has been researching and writing for various organizations and websites. She writes from the perspective of the common man and tweets as @zebansari

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Mango

    Finally some one is thinking from thier brain! I always hated the democratic setup of Pakistan.. And also the election process it some how just don’t fit into Pakistan’s society.
    We need a psychoanalysis of our society and then design the constitution according to it. Some doctrines succesful in another envioronment (political setup/ Country) Just wont do for Pakistan.Recommend

  • Parvez

    An excellent and quite accurate analysis of the situation at hand.Recommend

  • Gratgy

    Pakistan does not need a democratic environment, It needs a psychiatric environment.Recommend

  • Saqib Mohiuddin

    Excellent writing…….

    The Democracy in Pakistan, I call it Feudal Democracy in which ONLY Feudals prosper. Have been discussing with log of ignorant people and they believe that Constitution is a Holy Book. We all must remember “CONSTITUTION IS FOR COUNTRY, COUNTRY IS NOT FOR CONSTITUTION”. Should there is a need to make change, change it for the people “The Common Man”, NOT for the sake of Jagirdars and Waderas.Recommend

  • Parvez

    My first comment did not get through so i’m trying again.
    Very perceptive and nicely written, you are pretty much on target.Recommend

  • XX

    Now since this article has already started to do the unusual act of actually somewhat speaking the truth in the Pakistani English-medium press, let’s take this another step further: “In our hunger for change”, we don’t actually listen for the world “democracy”, as you say; no one does, in fact that’s the last thing they want to hear, all they are really listening for is military rule again at last. And no one believes that “revolution will bring democracy, and with democracy will come peace, lawfulness, good fortune and prosperity”; on the contrary, the revolution is against democracy, as every one believes that democracy brings completely the opposite of the above-mentioned virtues (which of course, as you say, in Pakistan is completely true).Recommend

  • husnain bhatti

    I completely agree with you, this practice of running background music even mixing of vidoes with the political development stories, only show their a society we ought to collectively reject this tamasha and record our protest through all means and if news channels continue with this cheap practise we should knock the doors of pakistani courts………… thanx writing on this issueRecommend

  • Faisal

    I am sorry but I am hardly impressed.
    The same logic that we are different and that we need tailor-made democracy (if that exists at all) has been used by every dictator. It is just to buy time, to maintain status quo and further delay the slow march towards democracy. What we may need is tailor-made systems of governance- not the supra level institution of democracy itself being questioned and hence not adopted at the end of the day.
    Yes democracy is an attitude in itself and as such will come from the grassroots, but you stop short of saying how!Recommend

  • Fatima

    This is horrifying. “theoretical paradigm invented in the West”? “Psychoanalysis of our society”?
    God save us from middle class theocracy. Either you are suggesting that Pakistanis, unlike Indians, Indonesians, French, Italians… Can’t “handle” making their own choices through democracy (which is frankly racist) or that we will somehow revert to our “indigenous” form of rule. Which is what… Mughal monarchy? Indus valley style paganism? Feudalism? Because everything else- democracy, communism,Recommend

  • ASIF

    Am I the only one who knows that Pakistan neither is nor designed to be a Democracy? Look up your Passports follks. It states “Islamic REPUBLIC of Pakistan”. There’s a difference b/w republic vs democracy. Republic is based on rules that cannot be overruled by the MOB.

    Citizens need boycott any party that hands over its ticket to any candidate who has any case registered against him or doesnt pay net taxes.Recommend

  • Sane

    Democracy is the best revenge. Revenge from people of Pakistan. We have seen this revenge in uninterrupted 5 democratic years and more will see after next elections. Democracy – All politicians slogan must be ‘United we stand against the will and well-being of people’.Recommend

  • Rex Minor

    A refreshing and an excellent write. Democracy may be a catch word in Pakistan, but democracy is the only universaly accepted science for the humanity of our times. We have tried monarchy, authoritarian forms as well as collective leaderships, but they did not stand the test of times. Democracy simply means that people in a community form a consensus to administer their affairs and tackle their social and economic order.

    You are absolutely clear when you imply that democracy of one country is not transferable to another country, what is important however is equaly that one does not take over or copy the PROCESS from another country and hope that Democracy will work. Pakistan is a country but not a nation, it does not have a democracy but its political elites and the media pretend that that theirs is democracy. Pakistan must first decolonise its institutions including its colonial structured military, administration and beaucratic structures replacing them with innovative an original ones own. There is long road ahead, but the fact you realise that the political leadership of the country has been telling fibs to the common man is a very good start after 65 years.

    Rex MinorRecommend