Majority of Pakistanis hoped for delivering democracy and good governance when in February 2008 they voted in a civilian government comprised of then opposition parties and rejected the military supported political parties.
They engineered a silent revolution for rule of law and constitutionalism through the power of ballot. However, after two and a half year the balance sheet of performance has mixed record. Some have been disappointed, while some remain optimist. Pakistani democracy however took a firm stand against Taliban in Swat valley and launched military offensive against them. For first time Pakistani Parliament had an opportunity to discuss and debate nations’ policy against the rising terrorism and extremism.
Similarly, the Parliament has adopted the 18th Constitutional Amendment that has accorded identity to Khyber-Pakhtoonkhwa (new name of NWFP), expanded the scope of fundamental rights, abolished Concurrent List to ensure provincial autonomy and restored the federal-parliamentary character of the Constitution. There is great optimism that now all the three pillars of the state namely: the executive, the legislature and the judiciary will respect this democratic social contract of the citizens with the state.
Pakistan has lurched from one crisis to the next with little coherent policy or strategy to deal with the nations’ numerous problems. The volatile political and economic environment combined with a severe deterioration in the security situation, especially in the (Khyber-Pakhtoonkhwa) Northwest Frontier and major Pakistani cities, has contributed to widespread public disappointment. Despite the situation, Pakistani citizens continue to demonstrate remarkable resilience. After two years of struggle, the lawyers’ movement finally succeeded in restoring the deposed Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Iftikar Chaudhry in March 2009, boosting the confidence of long beleaguered and demoralized democracy activists. Moreover, the Zardari-Gillani government has allowed space for politicians, the media, and civil society to engage in debates about constitutional reforms and the fundamental structure of the Pakistani state.
These democratic milestones did not occur overnight. Long-term grassroots education and community organizing efforts by civil society groups, combined with the rapid expansion of private electronic media outlets in recent years, has increased public awareness of democratic norms and values. Ordinary Pakistanis have embraced concepts such as the rule of law, independent judiciary, and media freedom. By linking national-level advocacy with grassroots democratic education, civil society organizations and activists are playing a critical role in setting Pakistan back on the path of democratic rule that reflects the will of the people.
The Centre has conducted series of activities envisaged in the project to achieve the following objectives:
- To facilitate public debate and discussion on democratic reforms
- To increase public awareness about democratic practices and processes