By D. Asghar
The burning question that most TV pseudo expert anchors ask their panel is, “Is democracy viable for Pakistan?” The answer to this question often gets obfuscated into the usual blame game and shouting matches among the participants.
It is a foregone conclusion that a true democracy and lack thereof for almost
four decades of our country’s existence can be attributed towards its poor understanding of this novel concept. Most people tend to have high expectations from the word, “democracy.” Democracy is a market place of ideas, and the means to an end, which is a system of governance by the people, for the people.
Ultimately in a true representative democracy the power resides with the people. Regretfully, in our case and in many other countries as well, the politicians tend to think otherwise. This is where the disconnect occurs and there is a lost love syndrome demonstrated by the electorate. The voters feel disenfranchised
from the system and consider it a non viable option.
The legislators are chosen by the voters, to represent them and their best interests in the assemblies. The legislators are often swayed by special and vested interests in the direction, which is entirely opposite of their constituents. Hence the gap between the public and publicly chosen officials widens.
If democracy is a participatory process, then it seems like the participation of the electorate ends at the ballot box. Subsequent to that, it seems like the public is helpless and more or less dependent on the whims of the politicians, who are indifferent to the pleas of the public. Until the next cycle of election, they absolve themselves from any public scrutiny.
It should be based on the participation of the electorate on a daily basis. First and foremost, any bill which is placed on the floor, must be based on the voters approval. In other words, there should be an electronic mechanism to record, National ID card# and voter survey. Those having no access must dial in and record their consent as well via touch tone. Once the deadline elapses, only then with public opinion well measured, the bill should be introduced on the floor and debated.
Secondly, all assembly sessions should be held with an open camera and telecasted live on a channel, which shows the representatives in action to their voters. This way the legislating aspect can be as transparent as possible and people can see and hear their voices in its truest essence.
It will make the legislators accountable to their voters on a daily basis. This will further solidify the often alienated and fragile relationship that both parties currently have. This is not the remedy to the myriad of problems that our nation faces, but a step towards attaining a true participatory system, where all voices are heard and accounted for. A step towards building trust and a process which truly returns power back to where it actually belongs in a truly representative democracy.