Democracy and governance | Political economics

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dementia, democracy and governance must go hand in hand. As a process and a culture, democracy is measured by the yardstick of governance. This is an erroneous measure with no rational justification. Respect for people’s choices and inclusion and equal opportunity in all areas of life should be markers of established democracy rather than good governance. The latter may not be directly linked to a democratic culture.

The irony is that in Pakistan, the metric by which a democratic regime is measured delivers on its promise of development. When we say that democracy is a process and a culture, it means that it will take time to realize its main dividends, both politically and socio-economically.

In Pakistan, elected governments are judged by the number and size of development projects they undertake and by populist economic measures instead of their paths towards strengthening democratic norms.

The performance of political parties at the federal and provincial levels is judged on what should be a benchmark for evaluating the performance of municipalities. This shows that most of our fellow citizens are ignorant of democratic values ​​and parliamentary traditions, the bulwarks of their rights and their fair lives.

There is a dire need to promote an understanding of the dichotomy between how people are governed and how governance affects people’s choices. In Pakistan, where the democratic process is often disrupted by extraconstitutional and apolitical forces, effective governance and a rapid development project undertaken by an undemocratic regime can inspire the public to renounce resistance to tyranny and demand democracy. As a result, the culture of democracy and constitutionalism recedes and that of governance takes more credence.

If a democratically elected government is effective on the development front, this does not necessarily mean that it will also strengthen democratic and parliamentary standards. It is undeniable that democracy underlies the responsiveness of government to public needs, but in a democratic regime, people aspire to much higher and sublime goals like the rule of law, social and economic justice, political freedom , the protection of human rights, inclusive and accountable institutions, civic participation, a strong civil society and a peaceful transfer of power through electoral processes from one elected government to another.

So between good governance and democracy, which comes first? The simple answer is that they should go together. No democratic policy can bear fruit for the public if it is not accompanied by good governance. Conversely, no model of governance can be sustainable, however effective it may be, if it does not take into consideration people’s choices and represents their general will, which accredits any model of governance.

The performance of political parties at the federal and provincial levels is judged on what should be a benchmark for evaluating the performance of municipalities.

So there is an inextricable link between the two. Political party manifestos often lay out plans for governance, but how these plans will be incorporated into general will or inclusiveness is often lacking. Pakistan is one of the countries that cannot ignore either; however, given the political urgency, preference for democracy over governance is the need of the hour.

If Pakistan successfully overcomes its political crisis and ensures a smooth transition from elected governments and inclusiveness in its politics and decision-making, preserves the sovereignty and dignity of parliament and ensures free and fair local elections in a timely timely, most governance issues will be resolved. to be determined. Bad governance is the result of a dysfunctional democratic system.

Major governance issues in Pakistan including economic crisis, uneven development, dysfunctional and loss-making public enterprises, unplanned urbanization, selective use of law and accountability, myopic planning and uneven development make following the disruptions of a democratic regime and the prevalence of an exclusionary mindset among the ruling elite. It is regrettable that the double crisis of democracy and governance has strongly impacted the social fabric of Pakistan. Today, political polarization has taken to the streets and homes, making ordinary people hateful and intolerant.

In a culturally and ethnically pluralistic society like Pakistan, democracy is a sine qua non. It is essential for its national and political integrity. A fair distribution of economic resources as well as environmental resources like water and gas, etc., among the provinces is only possible through fiscal federalism.

In third world economies like Pakistan, good governance is measured only in terms of development projects. The entanglement, however, is that good governance is seen by some as an independent criterion of democracy. Consequently, decision-making in the field of the economy becomes, in particular in the case of Pakistan, the exclusive prerogative of apolitical actors, for the most part economic wizards, having no stake in the political system. The dynamics of governance at the national level then determine the role of political and apolitical actors involved in the formulation and implementation of decisions.

It is a job for the people of Pakistan to hold their politicians accountable for the continuity and strength of the democratic process. They must form good teams to govern and undertake development. Ideally, governance should not be the business of politicians but of apolitical technocrats and state institutions in general.

In a society where people’s choices and preferences matter more than the whims and wishes of their rulers, the inclusiveness and continuity of democracy are jealously guarded and institutions are immune from political interference, the model of governance cannot suffer from any chronic malaise. Democratic political parties, a vigilant civil society and the general public must ensure a stable and democratically governed Pakistan, instead of a Pakistan dominated by a political junta or a sect.


The author is an advocacy officer in a non-governmental organization


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