Strengthen democracy in Pakistan: Daily

Islamabad, April 4 : A leading Pakistani daily Thursday demanded that the democratic order should be strengthened to a point where "it shines brighter than a mirage".

Everyone hopes the country's future will be different, but will it take the liberal, progressive shape that many want?, wondered an editorial in the Dawn as the country prepared to hold general elections May 11.

"Unhappily, there are several indications to the contrary. Even a cursory view of recent decades shows that Pakistani citizens have leaned increasingly towards conservatism."

"There are myriad reasons for this, including ill-judged domestic and international policies that have left Pakistanis feeling vulnerable, alienated and defensive. Given that the country's population is skewed heavily towards the young, many put their faith in the next generation," it said.

But there too the horizon is dark.

A survey by the British Council based on those aged between 18 and 29 years is an eye-opener: only 29 percent believe in democracy as a system, as opposed to 32 percent that would prefer military rule, and 38 percent talk of Sharia. On the eve of the elections, 94 percent feel that the country is headed in the wrong direction - up from 50 percent in 2007.

"And it is not hard to understand these figures, given young people's worries about the economy and the environment of violence."

"...the outlook demands a strategic rethink," said the daily which wanted the political forces to take note.

It went on to say that the silver lining is the main political parties still do not identify themselves with the religious right.

"They need to help their supporters turn this corner too, and one of the ways to accomplish this is to educate the youth on why democracy has been derailed so frequently - and how the blame rests not only with extra-constitutional forces.

"...The only remedy lies in ensuring that the democratic order is strengthened to a point where it shines brighter than a mirage," it added.

--IANS (Posted on 04-04-2013)

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