A farce of democracy

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A farce of democracy

Lifetime ban from public life for Nawaz Sharif reinforces the Army’s grip over the country

Fearmongers would have you believe that democracy is under threat in India but while India's democracy is far from perfect, one only needs to look across our western borders to realise how the deep state can undermine and take over a democracy. The disqualification of Nawaz Sharif for life by the Pakistani judiciary is a decision that rightly deserves to be mocked. Sharif and earlier Benazir Bhutto were the only two popular national politicians in Pakistan and while the latter was likely murdered by elements from the Army, the courts have used corruption as a shield to go after Sharif. There is no doubt that Nawaz Sharif and his family have enriched themselves with their connections to power, and to use a pun, they may not be as sharif  as they claim to be. There is also no wavering in the fact that corruption should be punished in Pakistan like in India. But much like some attempts to target corruption are nothing but political vendetta, so is the Pakistani judiciary and military's attempts to target the Sharif family. Now that they believe they have finally neutered the head of the family, attempts will almost certainly be made to ensure that other family members are also kept out of the political fray. The Sharifs, for better or for worse, were Pakistan's best opportunity for sustained economic growth as well as the possibility of a negotiated de-escalation on the Indian border. Almost certainly Nawaz Sharif and his family would not have allowed the colonisation of Pakistan by China and, possibly, given the regime change in Saudi Arabia — a country that mentored Nawaz Sharif — attempts could have been made to go after Islamic hardliners in Pakistan.

Instead, what we have is pretty much the final chapter of Pakistani democracy. While everyone knew the military ran things, the civilian Government did have some power. Now it is unlikely that things will change for the better in the short-term in Pakistan with the military happy to become a Chinese vassal state and the judiciary happy to let Islamic fundamentalism thrive. Indeed, Aam Aadmi Party chief Arvind Kejriwal ought to look at Pakistan to see what a truly emasculated Government looks like. Along with other examples in South Asia such as in the Maldives and increasingly in Pakistan, democracy is beating a hasty retreat. That is truly a pity for the people of this region and India should now shine a light of democracy across the area because for all its flaws, democracy has been one way that has ensured that a quantum of social justice has been delivered in this nation. And India itself would do well to ignore the voices that call for democracy to be reduced. Recent incidents potentially have us going down the slippery path taken by our sister-state, we should avoid emulating it.

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