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Pakistan’s Democracy: Democratic Institutions Paper

The current situation in Pakistan as it stands is that the current leader, President Pervez Musharraf, took over the country in a bloodless coup in October 1999. The nation has yet to see a stable democracy and over half of the nation’s history has been under the rule of military. How can this be explained and what institutional mechanisms are necessary for Pakistan to survive as a democracy? What current institutional structures can be used to facilitate predictable change of power?

My argument is simple, the political institutions that Pakistan was given were inadequate for the creation a stable democracy, and without the cohesion and dissemination of a concrete Pakistani identity and civil society the democracy defaulted to the control of the only stable institutional structures- the military and civil bureaucracies. I will later explicate and substantiate this thesis with political history and public policy decisions by lawmakers throughout Pakistan’s history.

The military regimes of Pakistan have created an alternative governmental structure that is robust to external and internal threats, however greatly influenced at the basic level of economic stability on foreign powers. The partition of Pakistan in 1971 has introduced the new element of Islamization, which has greatly influenced the political arena. The concept of federalism introduced needs a major overhaul to be solvent in the future. One of the only ways the Pakistani political-national identity has been solidified is weakly through the unity around the religion Islam and in a more concrete and major way is the enmity towards India. Major internal challenges include public accountability, economic decline, poverty increase, unsustainable development, fragile political system and dysfunctional public services. Major external challenges include globalization, IT revolution and lastly the focus of the paper- democratic governance.

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The possible institutional changes would be through education of the citizenry, eradiation of corruption, and an unbiased system of more representative hiring in government agencies in the long term. In the short term a codification of informal institutional and a power sharing among formal institutional structures with checks and balances to prevent overriding. For example in the paper I will explain about using the religious clergy (ulema) as a check and consultative arm of Congress. Also recommendations will be proposed for completing of the system of devolution started by President Musharraf, and renegotiating the power and spheres of state and local governments in relation to the national government. These are not concrete suggestions, but more like theoretical necessities for the progress of the Pakistani State.

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