Resetting Governance patterns

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Democracies do have written rles(contitutions) and referees(courts).But these work best and survive longest in countries where written constitutions are reinforced by their own unwritten rules of the game. These rules or norms serve as the guardrails of democracy preventing day to day political competition from devolving into a no holds barred conflicts. All successful democracies rely on informal rules that, though not found in the constitution or any laws are widely known and respected. Norms are more than personal dispositions. They do not simply rely on political leaders good character but rather are shared codes of conduct that become common knowledge within a particular community or society accepted, respected, and enforced by its members. Because they are unwritten, they are often hard to see, especially when they are functioning well. A norm`s importance is quickly revealed by its absence. One of the greatest is the presidential term limit of America. For most of American history, the two term limit was not a law but a norm of forbearance. Before ratification of the Twenty second amendment in 1951, nothing in the constitution dictated that president’s step down after two terms. Finding loopholes in the constitution and denial of the legitimacy of your political opponents are the indicators of the authoritarian behavior of any leader.

From the last few weeks the Pakistan`s political sky was under the dark clouds of political instability which results in the constitutional crises. Shahbaz sharif the leader of the opposition tabled a resolution of no confidence passed on 31 March. But on 3 April National Assembly Deputy Speaker Qasim Khan Suri dismissed the no-trust move against Prime Minister Imran Khan, terming it against Article 5 of the Constitution. After that questionable move by the speaker of the National Assembly the apex court took the notice. The Supreme Court is of course ruling on whether this Article can be used to stop a vote of no-confidence in parliament as it is going ahead, and whether the prime minister who cannot do so in other circumstances, can act to dissolve the assembly at such a moment. All eyes are now at the Supreme Court.

Citizens are often slow to realize that their democracy is being dismantled even if it happens before their eyes. That is the most painful thing especially when it comes to young people.Their is a rivalries among the social media nowadays, between the supporters of PTI and the opposition. But the question arises is that the people supporting PTI aware of the democratic norms? Many seem unable to understand precisely why a misuse of the constitution is such a serious matter; with some asking what the problem is if a clause is misused at any rate. The whole debate is governed by whether or not the person in question supports or opposes Imran Khan. Broader aspects from democracy and conditional rule have been lost in this entire fray. This too is a serious matter. For a democracy to work, people need to understand that the constitution is a document which guides us on how to run it and what is right, what is admissible and what is not. At the moment, all this seems to have been put aside, but no one cares. Some want Imran khan to continue while other suggest Shahbaz sharif would be a better choice, but no one seems to care about the misuse of the supreme law of the land or precisely what the constitution says on various issues. This is something that for the future needs to be examined. A country cannot function effectively as a democracy if its people are so indifferent to the constitution and what is happening under it. The abuse of the constitution or the deliberate misuse of clauses within it is a very serious matter and cannot simply be ignored. If we allow someone for the unconstitutional move that easily it will become the ritual.

From the threatening letter to the questionable role of the speaker and the dismissal of the resolution the PTI government sets the undemocratic norms. Only for the political benefits they set alarm bells for the future of the country. No Prime minister, no cabinet, and no CM in the largest province of only nuclear power of the Islamic world may have the heavy consequences. There has to be some way to put our democracy back on track and also to ensure that no further misdeeds or a violation of rules is carried out. As losing democracy is far worse than losing an election.

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