Category Archives: Politics

Governance & Democracy: by Choice or by Chance?

The debate initiated in “The Economist” on What is Wrong with Democracy makes an interesting discussion. Governance is an essential part of democracies or that of Confucian learned traditions or of the autocrats being crucial element of development discourse. Good governance symbolizes paradigm shift in the role of governments which may have differences in the theoretical formulation, policy prescription or conceptualization under various systems. The recent book on “Intelligent Governance for the 21st Century, a Middle Way between West and East” by Nicolas Berggruen and Nathan Gardels makes timely entry for analyzing western and eastern models of governance. The growing opinion about western democracies is that they have become associated with debt and dysfunction at home and extensive overreach abroad. The Economist argues that they are losing forward momentum due to financial crisis of 2007-08 and the rise of China. Another book on “The China Model: Political Meritocracy and the Limits of Democracy” by Daniel A. Bell, also argued that people in Western democracies are unsure about whether one person, one vote is a good way of choosing governments. However, it has become matter of faith and any suggestion to the contrary is shocking. He further argued that a perfected version of Chinese authoritarianism is not merely a viable alternative to the Western norm but in fact might be better and maybe not just for China. In the debate on democracies most rose in 20th century under a difficult environment faced to Germany, India, South Africa (1990s), Greece (1974), Spain (1975), Argentina (1983), Brazil (1985) and Chile (1989). The collapse of the Soviet Union created many fledgling democracies in central Europe, A host of new democracies also emerged in Africa and Asia. According an American think-tank there are about 120 countries with a political system based on democracy to make it 63% in the world. Today in most democracies people are protecting against corrupt, abusive democratic governments. This is notwithstanding the fact that most democracies are on average richer than non-democracies and are less likely to go to war and have a better record of fighting corruption. Recently, world applauded the collapse of the autocratic regimes, but their toppling out turned out to be difficult for new democratic governments following revolutions like Arab Spring in the Middle East and North Africa and Ukraine’s Orange revolution a decade ago, despite people spoke their minds clearly against autocratic systems and hoped shaping their future in democracies. The question here underlines, what is wrong with democracy, where people in different parts of the world are not satisfied and question the very idea of democratic system. The argument of Chinese Communist Party makes an interesting discussion which has broken the democratic world’s monopoly on economic progress to leave an idea with people to be disillusioned with the workings of their political systems. The Chinese argue that their eastern tight model of governance is based on centuries long Confucian learned traditions, which is coupled with a relentless effort by Communist Party to recruit talented people into its upper ranks, which is more efficient than democracies. The Chinese political system and governance has doubled the living standards of its people and rise is consistent. The 2013 Pew Survey of Global Attitudes showed that 85% of Chinese were “very satisfied” with their country’s direction, compared with 31% of Americans. Many Chinese intellectuals are positively boastful of the delivery of their system of governance compared to democracies and argue that western democracies institutionalize gridlock, trivialize decision-making and elect second-rate leaders to govern. Many developing countries with Western values and political systems are experiencing disorder and chaos, because democracy is making simple things overly complicated and frivolous and allows certain sweet-talking politicians to mislead the people. In this debate death of Singapore’s founding leader Lee Kuan Yew also left a tremendous model and legacy of political system and governance created during his 31 yearlong premiership. Lee Kuan Yew achieved a phenomenal economic growth and immense prosperity for its people despite his country was multiethnic and multiracial. He turned diversity into unity and opportunity that Singaporean per capita income rose from UD$ 500 to USD $55,000 in fifty years (1965 – 2015). Lee Kuan Yew political system and governance in essence refers to all processes of governing by a government apparently based on western model of governance and yet not liberal and democratic in many ways. Compared to Confucian learned traditions Singaporean global indicators like competitiveness, innovation, livability and clean governance standout and they lead as well in social, economic and health global indicators. The leadership in democratic system is important as the charisma of Lee turned a multiethnic and multiracial society contributing for national unity and progress. He made meritocracy and rule of law reign supreme in all walks of national life, gave nation a vision and conduct of rules through personal examples. Lee led an ascetic life. He met his mother once a year as it involved high cost of security given to him during his visit. He avoided his brothers and relatives for their indulgence in corruption, favoritism, and nepotism. Lee gave importance to values in action, policy, or while choosing developmental models. He believed if values are divorced from the system, no society can achieve optimum results. He educated and ordered his society to respect principles of meritocracy and rule of law that set in motion an efficient civil service, discipline, and success of economic policies. In the Lee’s legacy, today’s Singapore advancement in civil service and business is purely on merit. Adherence to rules and code of conduct has become norm for Singaporean and they believe firmly that one cannot grow by bending the rules. The civil service of Singapore has become a role model, where salaries and perks are equal to those offered by the private sector. Singapore’s civil servants on each rung of their career manage a different portfolio while working in a different department. This builds them a broad base knowledge and experience. Singaporean socio-economic growth of multiethnic and multiracial society, their rising equal living standards and stability and harmony are legitimate tests of a good political system reached through good governance. Lee model of governance had zero tolerance against corruption, nepotism, and favoritism. Lee set up an independent bureau of Corrupt Practices Investigations Bureau to ensure integrity of those vested with exercise of power in private and public sectors and no one enjoys immunity. The doctrines of political systems without accountability and balancing the processes of fair interaction and decision-making by the institutions would make it dumb exercise. In Pakistan the debate is about political system, autocratic rules and governance. People worry why democracy in Pakistan is not delivering? Why democratic parties promote corruption, favoritism, and nepotism and why do they not promote meritocracy and rule of law? Perhaps there is nothing wrong with democracy or any comparable system as there is no dearth of governance ideals including that of Islamic democratic values. What we need is rebalancing our approach for a fair, transparent and legitimized democracy to usher meritocracy for an intelligent form of governance. This is possible in true democracy that can distinguish the governance from government. In the exercise of de-politicizing the governance, the critical question is built around politicians if they can desist from personal motives to influence the quality of governance to make democracy function?

Wajid Ali

Why terrorism in Pakistan is seen indifferently by outside world? 

“In post Cherlie Hebdo incident of January 07, 2015 where twelve persons were killed, eighty-three states from Albania to Vietnam condemned the attack[1]. Five major international organisations from OIC to United Nations expressed solidarity with the victims[2]. More than thirty heads of the states of all races, religions and colours participated in an open rally on the streets of Paris to say that they were against terrorism[3]. This was all possible due to opinion expressed by thousands of people who came out on same day of attacks to condemn the incident by their active but peaceful gathering. As it was an attack on journalists so world press was also united and some called it an attack on western civilization[4]. Anti Pakistan lobbies do not miss any chance to malign Pakistan. Fareed Zakriya, an Indian born American journalist said that Pakistani Prime Minister has not condemned the attack, as he should have[5]. However, it was not all that neat. Some fifty cases were registered where Muslims in France were attacked merely due to their faith[6].

When 9/11 took place, urgency was created. NCTC and Homeland Security were the outcome of hectic exercises to develop a response mechanism. In UK, India, Canada and many other countries reviewed their contingency plans and started capacity building programs of civilian and military institutions. Contrary to this, attack on APS Peshawar on December 16, 2014 did not generate same response despite hundred and fifty nine casualties, most of them children. There were very few public demonstrations in the country. Sixty three states issued statements. Nationally all political parties condemned the incident and a consensus seemed to emerge against terrorism. Even Al Qaida and Afghan Taliban condemned the attack on innocent children[7]. However, the momentum built by media and action promised by the government were not realised due to poor implementation. Delays in implementation of NAP and ambivalence to take dangerous yet decisive actions by LEAs are diluting the intent behind NAP. Divergent interests of the state institutions preventing integrated response. Moreover, due to past policies of the state and poor governance, Pakistan does not enjoy good reputation in the international community for fighting against terrorism.

However, internationally, terrorism is not the biggest reason of human fatalities. Diseases and traffic incidents cause more casualties than terrorism in conflict free zones[8]. Some experts believe that real reason of exaggeration of terrorist threats has more to do with domestic politics than with the true level of danger. ‘Whenever a terrorist incident occurs, politicians are quick to accuse incumbents of failing to do enough to prevent such actions’[9]. ‘And the media has every reason to join the chorus of doom and gloom: Even a small terrorist incident gets lots of people watching, listening, or reading online, especially when it occurs in Paris, London, or some other Western city’[10]. If seen through this lens, Charlie Hebdo incident response is somewhat exaggerated and it helps the terrorists to expand the war and recruit more people into their cause.

There are some differences in pre-incident and post-incident situations in Pakistan and rest of the world. Consider the Charlie Hebdo case or very recent Chapel Hill shooting in North Carolina USA where three Muslims are being killed by one person[11]. In post incident scenario, firstly, police deployment is adequate and professional handling of crime scene in visible through controlled access granted to Media. Media handling of Police is skilful and images of crime scene are not available for every one. This helps in minimising the visibility of destruction, which is highly desired by the terrorists but not by the state as it affects the morale of forces and the public.

Secondly, pre-incident work done by law enforcement and intelligence agencies helps them in timely investigation and identification of the suspects. This rapid analysis and identification of the culprits restores the confidence of the public on their security apparatus. This also results in shifting the focus from victims to accused and people come forward to help the LEAs to achieve their target. Urgency is created and all efforts are integrated to book the criminals. However, the cooperation by public depends upon relationship of between the LEAs and the public cultivated by service delivery rather for transactional motives to solve the crime riddle.

Thirdly, in almost all cases, civilian law enforcement officers come forward and nowhere intelligence agencies or military unduly interact with Media. Similarly, Special armed forces or Gendarmerie are deployed for a short time to demonstrate people highest level of security as confidence building measure but they are not called in for longer terms for strategic reasons. Media handling by only LEAs prevents contradictory information provided by various agencies.

Fourthly, threat assessments for local and foreign population, media and dignitaries are also issued to regulate their movements and share information. In Pakistan there is lack of timely coordination and cooperation with local and foreign media. For this information, foreign diplomats and police advisors cultivate relationships with intelligence agencies to remain informed about potential threats or develop their in house programs for coming to such conclusions.

Most of the time, one terrorist group or the other accepts responsibility of attack. In addition most common modus operandi is suicide attack. Therefore, terrorist is also wiped out in the incident. So identification issue is over. No action or slow action taken against the network of terrorists results in mounting mistrust of the people against the state institutions particularly Police and politicians – the easy targets. It is also true that international Media and opinion makers has a negative bias against Pakistan and security institutions.

Hence, due to poor Media engagement strategy, slow action by Police and over action by Army and Rangers, remains on the wrong side of the media and they create sensation for their business development. Lack of political stability and ambivalent stance on terrorism and past history of terrorism incidents give anti Pakistan lobbyists reasons to sharpen their criticism. Even in cases where there are no links of Pakistan they find grounds to attack Pakistan for their mercantile interests and ideological leanings.

‘In other words, the keys to success are not bellicose speeches, mass marches, wars on terror, or continued military interventions throughout the [country]. The key is calm resolution and conscious efforts to build resiliency at home. Tragedies will occur from time to time, but they cannot alter our way of life unless we allow them to do so. Terrorists of all sorts remain too weak to impose their will upon us, which means we always have the freedom to decide how to react to the danger they pose. We will be fools indeed if we allow the modest threat they pose to scare us into doing something foolish or, worse still, into abandoning the core principles of a free society’[12]. Core principles of a pluralistic society of Pakistan are rule of law, equality and justice for all.”



[3] Unity Rally for Paris Shootings, Jan 11, 2015

[4] BBC News January 08, 2015,

[5] Fareed Zakriay on Paris Attacks, F. World, Jan 09, 2015

[6] RT News, January 13, 2015,


[8] Conflict affected zones include Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, Pakistan, Libya


[10] Walt, Stephan, Think before you March, Foreign Policy, January 16, 2015


[12] Walt, Stephan, Think before you March, Foreign Policy, January 16, 2015 “