Living under a quasi-democratic system | Editorial

The country has seen two elected administrations completing their tenure. A caretaker set up is currently preparing to hold the elections on July 25 in accordance with the ECP’s schedule. Despite all the formal appendages of the system being in place the country remains a quasi-democracy.
The two governments that ruled from 2008 onwards were disallowed to proceed beyond the red lines defined arbitrarily by the establishment. Unlike other democracies in the world they had little say in matters related to foreign policy and internal and external security. Whenever a prime minister tried to improve relations with alienated neighbours or exert control over outfits that caused worldwide concern and threatened the democratic system at home he invariably received a snub. With elected governments having no real authority, the system failed to deliver. The establishment however conveniently blamed the civilian rulers even for the problems created by itself.
The media, which serves as an important pillar of democracy, remained under siege throughout the 2008-18 period. It was under constant threat from the extremist networks, considered assets by those who matter, as well as from the ‘good Taliban’. Several media persons who dared to file independent stories were roughed up or shot dead. This was meant to be a warning to others. TV networks were set up to spread false news, scandalise politicians and malign and threaten independent media persons. This was beside warning tweets from persons identifying themselves as security officials. Meanwhile offshoots of banned outfits and extremist networks continued to be mainstreamed and encouraged to fight elections under new names like the Allah-o-Akbar Tehrik and Tehrik-e-Labbaik
That a PTI man who was on the ECL was allowed to proceed to Saudi Arabia after a phone call from Imran Khan a perception has been created that the caretaker set up is soft on the PTI and its allies.
With political parties engaged as before in no-holds-barred fights while issuing party tickets to undependable electables, there is little hope of the next elected government being any different from the two previous ones.

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