THE STATE OF DEMOCRACY IN PAKISTAN: INSTITUTIONAL CLASH

The empowered judiciary in Pakistan, of late has been using its suo moto power and intervening in a range of matters that are usually the prerogative of the Executive. Some hold this to be a salubrious check on the power structure of Pakistan while others deem this judicial activism to constitute ‘judicial dictatorship’. Institutional balance is important and a critical predicate for a healthy polity. An imbalance of power among institutions can lead to a warped polity impinging negative on democratization and governance. ‘Pakistan is , on account of this development, experiencing a steady attempt by the Supreme and the High Courts to expand their domain of action’. Sensing tension between the judiciary and the PPP led government, the opposition parties have endeavored to turn the judiciary into an area of contestation with the PPP’. They have gone to court on a number of purely political issues that should have been settled through political interaction or through the Parliament’ (Rizvi, 2012). This overt politicization of the judiciary augurs ill for the polity and potentially creates space for the intervention of the military into the politics of Pakistan. As such, it cannot be held to be the panacea for Pakistan’s ills and constitute the bed rock for its democratization.

The domains in which the judiciary has intervened into belong to the domains of politics that require negotiations. Does this mean and imply that the situation is so bleak that the prospects for democracy in Pakistan are dim or nonexistent? Would other components of a vibrant democracy-civil society and the media- fill in the void? It is to a discussion of these we turn to. Credit card

Pakistan’s civil society is not well developed and exists in an embryonic form. According to A.S R Baig, ‘ civil society in Pakistan is characterized by hybrid forms, multiple inheritances and the unresolved practices and values of pre-capitalism society and new modes of social life , between authoritarian legacies and democratic aspirations. Its cultural manifestations appear as a collection of incoherent voices, conflicting world views, and opposing interests’ (2001:4). Even though some space is accorded to civil society organizations, this space is cluttered and a cacophony of voices and civil society organizations whose agendas are not always benign. Christine Fair posits that ‘ the ways in which civil society organizations are evolving in Pakistan augur more-not less division across Pakistan’(2011:96). The diversity of civil society is amazing but the agendas are conflictual and the nature of these ranges from one extreme to another.