By Syed Faraz Hussain Naqvi.
As the clouds of elections are hovering above the political landscape of the country, the candidates and political parties are exerting their full influence over the masses. The processions, corner meetings and door to door campaign has become the custom as it is typical of the political culture of subcontinent. The continuity of democracy and the thriving competition along with the triumph of public’s choice, has engulfed the entire country into this captivating eventuality. But, are we practicing the true essence of democracy or being beguiled by the demagoguery norms?
Democracy is objective in its literal sense by entrusting the power to public while subjective in practice which allows the nonconformity in perspectives. Thus, the system has deliberately been moulded to be slow so as to keep the path open for discussion. To ensure the smoothness and avoiding the disarray, the system is governed by the institutional framework. This is the liberal democratic model which is being followed in majority of the countries including Pakistan; except for the inclusion of Islamic principles.
Eventually, the institutions ensure the subsistence of a law based society where check and balances are regularized and accountability prevails. But what if the quick response is required to quash the emergency or crisis or any upheaval? Here, the demagogue steps in. Giving assurances and pledging loyalty to the public desires, eradicating fears and elevating the standards without describing the transparent policy make a politician a demagogue. Exploitation of public sentiments and impingement of prejudice against the others for the narrow gain in elections become the tantamount of weakening of the system. It is a misery that Pakistan manifests the pity picture of such cognitive measures.
The participation of each group, ethnicity and religious minority provides the opportunity of fair dealings in the democratic structure. But if the schemais converted into the propagation of denunciation of the other, it becomes demagoguery. Hatred against the ethnic groups, animosity towards the minorities, allowing the banned outfits to partake in disguise all pave the way towards demagoguery. Detestation against the political leaders and hostilities towards each other parties are not the principles of democracy. Instead of cooperation, it has turned into the anarchy.
The division must be made between the symbols and principles of the democratic system. For that, it is indispensable to have the awareness and enlightenment about the political dynamics. Political parties, election cyphers, processions, campaigning and ideological stances are all the symbols of democracy. They, in no manner, have any essential mandate rather only relevant with the political structure of the particular state; here specifically for Pakistan. However, universally accepted and practiced, are the principles which lie in freedom, good governance, development, utilitarianism, rights, justice, equality, answerability, in fact, the share in every sphere of social life.
But who would take this burden? Instead of any thoughtful and sophisticated approach towards the rationale of elections, public often deems politicians inspiring and adheres to their personality rather than the policy. Ultimately, the votes are casted not for the public service but to see the desired candidate winning the premiership. Pakistan, where hardly anybody is aware of the manifesto of any political party or candidate, is still struggling with the tribal associations and caste traditions. Taking advantage of this outlook, bashing other competitors and exciting feelings of the crowds become the tool for parties to enhance their vote bank. This is, of course, at the expense of disregarding the basic necessities of the community.
Socrates, in this regard, shared suspicion over the discourse of democracy because of the unskilled voter. For him, voting is a skill and it needs appropriate training, so while casting the ballot, each citizen must be completely vibrant about his or her choice. But who would train the voter? It is the utmost responsibility of the political parties to arrange such seminars and gatherings. However, instead of such pragmatic and active participation, the political workers are often engaged in discrediting others and granting their own respective parties the supreme position. Even if this so-called system is allowed to prevail, the fruits of democracy would never reach into the hands of citizens.
This weakening of the system results in the emergence of one or some powerful institutions which work for their dominance. The decades long rule of some politicians and hereditary practice in their camps can only be overcome when the training of workers is prioritized. The involvement of any group which proliferates the ideology of extremism, fanaticism or hatred should be restricted in the elections since freedom must be embraced under the law which must be universal for all. To alter the dynamics, it is necessary to provide space to minor parties in respective constituencies. Only then, the tycoons could be reigned and the abusing of two major rivals be contained. This is the true embodiment of democracy that is being devoured by the overlapping concept of demagoguery.