Pak, Osama and a Lesson in Democracy

Posted by Lakshmi Gopal on Sun, May 8, 2011  
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Last Monday, the Americans bombarded Abbotabad, killed Laden and restored a semblance of peace to a strife-torn world.


While the world and a majority of Indians applaud the US action and denounce Pak government and civil society for being such weaklings in the face of their terrorism-nourishing ISI, the educated, analytical citizen must step back and look at things with a sense of hard-nosed objectivity.


It is true that political leadership in Pakistan never did enough to earn the respect of the public or helped deepen democratic processes and institutions. Instead, it often misused and abused authority for narrow objectives and personal gains.


However, a collective sense of smugness on our part with regard to the turmoil next door does not really help. We must learn a lesson or two in keeping our democracy alive and kicking – democracy that we take so much for granted.


It takes humility to accept how vulnerable the concept and practice of democracy and individual rights can be rendered if mass corruption, confrontationist tactics and the law of the jungle is allowed to take over. The concept of ‘Might is right’ turns upon itself when pushed too far.


We must remember that the right to oppose in a healthy democracy includes the obligation towards an orderly conduct of governing processes. Loud raving and ranting, relentless and ruthless political rivalries must be checked. When political leadership betrays public trust and short-changes the masses, it is then that democracy starts to lose its immunity and becomes prone to a multitude of ‘infections’. And then there's no turning back on the road to disaster, like in Pakistan.


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