Democracy consolidated in Pakistan in 2011: PILDAT report

LAHORE: Democracy in Pakistan consolidated in 2011 through a number of measures notably the implementation of the 18th Amendment bill which devolved powers to the provinces but improvement still exists to further stabilise and strengthen the democratic system.

This was stated in a report prepared by Pakistan Institute of Legislative Development and Transparency (PILDAT) on ‘Assessment of the quality of Democracy in Pakistan 2011′ and released at a media briefing on Friday.

The report has been prepared by a twenty-six member ‘Democracy Assessment Group’ (DAG) comprising leading figures drawn from a cross section of society including legal and constitutional experts,legislators, ex-diplomats,scholars, analysts, ex-militarymen and media persons.

PILDAT’s chief exective Ahmed Bilal Mehboob told media at a briefing that assessment of quality of democracy in Pakistan has moved up by four points to 49 from 45 in 2010. He identified six reasons for consolidation in democracy.

These included the implemention of 18th Amendment bill,non support by political parties for any extra-constitutional measures, legislation in the National Assembly and strong performance by the NA Public Accounts Committee, establishment of independent Election Commission,vibrant role of media and support for democracy by the Civil society and the military.

On the other hand, the report also noted that 2011 was marked by weak rule of law, poor economic governance,tense civil-military relationship,failure to pass accountability bill, corruption scandals and the inability of the provincial governments to hold local bodies elections.

Speaking on the occasion, former Punjab Governor Shahid Hamid said democracy in the country gained strength from an overwhelming public support including that from the military.

He also noted that distorations in the constitution brought about by former military ruler Pervez Musharraf were removed which,too, assisted in cementing democracy.

Hamid also credited the role of opposition parties in strengthening democracy by not taking any initiatives to distablize the present elected government.

However, he stated that the DAG noticed further fall in the level of tolerance in the society in 2011.

Furthermore,the report said 99 per cent of the public remained behind the Supreme Court although the commonman continues to be perturbed by the levels of corruption at the sub-ordinate level of judiciary.

Hamid also observed that the Government must immediately initiate process for the election of new Election Commissioner due in March as the procedure is lenghty and require election by consensus between all the stake holders.

Former Sindh Governor Lt.General (retd) Moinuddin Haider noted improvement of situation in Karachi in the past four months but said the Baluchistan nationalist parties needs to be brought into the national mainstream by addressing their grievances.

He also pointed out that the quality of democracy could suffer if the delivery of services for the common man does not improve in the coming months.

PILDAT will make public soon the 100-page report on the status of democracy in Pakistan.

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