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Dr. Tahir Kamran provides insight about Pakistan’s democratic history and the struggle ahead in this 207 page book, freely available online at SAP Pakistan’s website. Download now.
Preface by Mohammad Tahseen, Executive Director, SAP Pakistan
There is no gainsaying the fact that democracy is both a challenge and an opportunity for Pakistan. It sounds even more relevant if we finger through this book written with so much richness of insight by Professor Dr. Tahir Kamran. Professor Dr. deserves high appreciation of his matchless effort in producing such a subtle book of history in so much concise manner. It is indeed an invaluable contribution to Pakistan generally and the civil society and the student of history
particularly. It can also be useful for those who are directly responsible for turning Pakistan into a fireball of hatred, deprivation and anguish.
Coming to the question why democracy is a challenge and an opportunity for Pakistan. SAP-PK thinks that democracy is a challenge for Pakistan because there are multi-ethnic, multi-religious and multi-cultural groups juxtaposed with their own unique history, needs, problems and aspirations. It is a challenge because there are several conflicts arising out of the same uniqueness which the “politics of elimination” of the military and civil establishment deliberately created to wield more and more powers. It is a challenge because the same people have lost their hope overtime after years of betrayal by the military, politicians and bureaucracy, to the consequence that they are no longer interested in even one of the significant practices of democracy, i.e., ‘elections’ and now we need no less than year 71 or an October earthquake to see them at the same note. It is a challenge because years of exposures to dictatorial regimes and lessons of intolerance towards women, religious minorities and neighboring countries pushed down their threats through ideological apparatuses of the state have shaped their minds in the directions where the debate of human rights becomes irrelevant and lawlessness is the existing law.
Now comes the second part of the same question as to why democracy is an opportunity for us. SAP-PK thinks that the answer to this question is in fact carved on the other side of the same coin. And that is that one should learn from his/her follies. The history proves that we were free to make mistakes. The question is whether we are ready to accept them. This book takes stock of many follies that ruler of this unfortunate country made one after another under the impression of prolonging their indispensable rule ‘and benefiting Pakistan’. And those follies were not follies just because ‘they’ made them, but because only a few people made them and they did not bother to consult millions of people. The ‘opportunity’ is therefore rooted in this realization that people matter and or very reason of the existence of this country. Had the rulers trusted our people in the true spirit of the letter, socio-economic and political conditions of this country would have been different. They, and we as nation, must understand that ethnic, cultural and religious diversity is our strength. This diversity must be acknowledged and respected both in approach and actions. We must understand that countries become zones of opportunities when they chose ballot over bullet, debate over coercion, tolerance and consensus over intolerance and self-serving attitude. Pakistan has still that streak which can push people back to exercise the former choices. But that all begins by accepting people as supreme. Supremacy of people makes countries sovereign.