State & Democracy

.. by Khalid Pervaiz, Booni

In democracy, the state institutions are mandated to function within their constitutional domain.   Legislature, Executive and judiciary are the three major pillars of state in a democratic form of government. As a matter of fact, the function of legislature is to formulate law; Judiciary interprets and executive executes the law.  This is how state institutions function without interfering in each other’s domain paving the way for better civic sense to prevail among the citizens.

Contrary to the foregoing, state is led to descend into the abysmal depth of lawlessness and chaos when institutions overstep their constitutional domain to go on the path of confrontation. In that case, trust-deficit in state institutions sets off a domino-effect undermining the prospects of sustainable socio-economic development.   State institutions in third- world countries are a case in point. That is the reason why the writ of the state in those countries has more often than not been challenged by the non-state actors.

Arguably, it makes no sense to squarely blame only one institution for the failure of democracy and constitutional crisis in third-world countries, as that could do more harm than good to the already precarious conditions for democratic stability.  Apart from regime-change operations aided by western imperialist powers, the major factors that have led to the failure of democratic process can undeniably be attributed to the prevalence of corruption, poverty, outdated justice system and the power- struggle of the elite-few

It is a misfortune that state Institutions in most countries of Asia, Middle-east and Africa are often seen as doing the bidding of the authoritarian rulers who despise to be governed by the rule of law.  Any voice that is critical of their tyrannical rule is ruthlessly suppressed either subjecting them to torture and prolonged incarceration or are assassinated in mysterious circumstances.  Under the perpetual fear of threat to life and property, the common man on the street prefers to stay silent like a dumb-driven cattle.

On 02 October, 2018, the world witnessed the murder of a US –based journalist of Saudi descent, Khashoggi, allegedly planned inside the Saudi Embassy of Istanbul in Turkey.  The motive behind his alleged murder is supposedly hinted at his outrageous criticism on Saudi government’s policies of the Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman.  Notwithstanding the mounting pressure on the Saudi government from the Human Rights Organizations, the Saudi Law Enforcement Agencies carried out no independent investigation to bring the perpetrators to justice.

In the late eighties, state failure in Afghanistan led to the emergence of non-state actors who rose up in revolt immediately after the withdrawal of the Soviet troops. The armed resistance turned the restive Afghan land into a breeding ground for terrorist activities.  The terrorist attacks of 9/11 on the twin towers in the New Yark City of the US were purportedly thought to have been planned from the Afghan soil. In retaliation, the US launched a deadly attack on the Taliban-led government of Afghanistan and bombed hide-outs harboring  perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks. The fragile state power of Afghanistan could not resist the blitz for long and the Taliban retreated to mountains for launching a guerilla warfare against the occupied NATO forces.

The aftershocks of 9/11 began to be felt in Pakistan after the Fazlullah-led Taliban unleashed a reign of terror by setting up a parallel justice system acting as a judge, jury and executioner simultaneously.  In a series of Taliban orchestrated terrorist attacks across the country large number of civilians and security forces lost their lives. the Army was then immediately called in to restore peace after the police and the civil administration raised hands while resisting the Taliban advance who had gained a strong foothold in the whole of Swat and beyond.

 Sudan is yet another conflict-ridden country badly hit by state failure; where the power struggle between the Sudan national Army and the Civilians has brought the country virtually to the brink of institutional disintegration. The reason that Sudan has so far failed to integrate the warring militias and factions into the national mainstream is institutional corruption. The irony is that the SNA has long been playing the role of power broker stalling the democratic process.

No wonder, strengthening of institutions stems from genuine democracy. sadly, in most of the third world countries of Asia, Africa and Latin America state institutions are awfully tainted by corrupt practices that leads to political instability, economic crises and technological backwardness.  It’s because of that the imperialist powers are afforded the opportunity of interference to bring about regime change to overthrow elected governments in those countries.

History bears witness to fact that the British government aided by the US administration of Eisenhower, overthrew the democratically elected government of Muhammad Musadeq in Iran in 1953.  The reason behind the coup d’etat was the decision by Musadeq to audit the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company for verification of royalty payments to Iran under the contractual agreement. Without a second thought, the imperialist powers planned a coup d’etat at connivance with the Iranian Army.

The question arises that how long the western imperialist powers will continue to destabilize governments in the third world countries? Is there any end to this neo-colonialism and monopoly in sight? The answer is in the affirmative, provided that good sense prevails to make concerted efforts for the rule of law, dispensation of speedy justice, eradication of poverty, equitable distribution of wealth, budgetary allocation for quality education and development of technology. Obviously, that will ensure strengthening of institutions which is a sine qua non for the sovereignty and independence of a democratic state.

Foregoing in view, democracy can thrive only when state has its institutions untainted by corrupt practices. In the developed countries, institutions and their functionaries are not above the law, rather they function under the law of the land. The law is supreme. Every citizen whether rich or poor, mighty or weak are all equal before law. That is the reason their institutions have got strengthened eventually leading to the success of democracy in those countries. .. Khalid Pervaiz, Booni, Chitral 31  JUL 2023

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