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"Democracy must not be misconceived"
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"Democracy must not be misconceived"

Asim Nawaz AbbassiReal democracy means more than casting a ballot on election day, writes Asim Nawaz Abbassi, 27, a Correspondent from Islamabad, Pakistan, who argues democracy also involves being aware of rights and responsibilities.

Democracy is believed by many to be the best political system on earth, as it provides the opportunity for marginalized groups in society to showcase their opinions.

The way democracy is perceived and implemented differs throughout the world, but the reason behind its implementation is the same.  It is generally accepted that democracy is a relationship between citizens and government that encourages participation in the political procedure and assures fundamental rights.

In Pakistan the definition of democracy has been interpreted falsely because people only focus on one part of democracy; government should be formed by the will of the people by exercising their right to vote. But a real democracy is much more than elections and voting. It starts from the day people exercise their right to vote and continues with fulfilling responsibilities lying on both sides; public and state.  It also means that both stakeholders commit to fairness and accountability, ensuring vivacious and significant public participation in the decision-making process.

Here everyone blames the state for corruption, the bad law-and-order situation, the weak economy and many more things that undoubtedly are the core responsibilities of the state and must be addressed by it. But when it comes to an individual’s accountability and our role as responsible citizens we are seen providing lame excuses.

Starting from simple things first: Do we always obey traffic laws? Do we not support nepotism when it comes to our personal benefits? Do we not offer bribes? Do we pay taxes candidly to authorities? Do we respect others’ opinions, beliefs and rights? Do we all use our right to vote properly? And above all, are we aware of what our rights are and what the state has promised us to give? The answer is obviously no. So how can we always make the government responsible for all sins when we are equally involved in arousing a bad situation?

Secondly, democracy has always room for improvements, and consistency is the thing that can make it possible. Specifically in the case of Pakistan, the absence of democracy for a long period of time made people unaware of its fruitful results. The military interventions first by General Ayub Khan, Yahya Khan , Zia-ul- haq and Gen Musharraf, never allowed the people to enjoy democracy, or to adopt a positive political system. That’s why sometimes people are seen praising the dictatorial period. Lamentably, the political psyche of the masses is very weak due to lack of political awareness.

In its six and a half decades long history, Pakistan for the first time practiced the democratic transition after the 2013 general elections. People now seem to be getting more convinced towards the democratic form of a political system and are ready to support it. Despite being aware of many loop holes that exist in our political system, they are of the view that an evolutionary process is underway and we’ll soon see a matured democratic system where a common man can think of himself sitting in power corridors.

photo credit: Polling Center Closing via photopin (license)

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About me:

Asim Nawaz Abbassi is a youth activist, writer, and a political activist from Pakistan.

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Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth Youth Programme. Articles are published in a spirit of dialogue, respect and understanding. If you disagree, why not submit a response?

To learn more about becoming a Commonwealth Correspondent please visit:

http://www.yourcommonwealth.org/submit-articles/commonwealthcorrespondents/

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