Mar 23 - 29, 2009

Politics in Pakistan has been dominated by feudals, under-educated politicians, westernized and insensitive bureaucracy, profit-seeking and spineless business and industry class and last but not the least, the hate campaign triggering media.- exceptions to all these categories notwithstanding. Any one in power not playing to their tunes is branded by these vested interest groups as dictator- the allusion always being to the army which despite its shortcomings is an institution far better than these incompetent conglomerates. Our media is always seen busy in projecting the corrupt politicians and degrading the achievements of a non-democratic ruler. Our masses being poorly educated - the easy-to-explode myth of 55 per cent literacy set aside for the time being - fail to see through the ploy of the media and get trapped in the 'love for democracy'. Ever busy in their game of Tom's character assassination and Dick & Harry's image building, the media men never make an honest comparison between the economic achievements of democratic and autocratic rules of governance, as this does not suit their interest. They fail to explain that why peoples' tolerance limit for democratic eras is less than three years as against an average of 8 years for the autocratic rules. And that why the average GDP growth during democratic eras has been less than 4 per cent as against an almost 6 per cent during autocratic rules.

1951-58 (Democratic Era) 3.03 NA NA NA
1958-69 (Gen. Ayub Khan Rule) 5.84 92.74 118 NA
1969-71 (Gen. Yahya Khan Rule) 5.51 (5.65) 173 46.61
1971-77 (Z.A Bhutto Democratic Era) 4.42 (19.78) 170 (1.73)
1977-87 (Gen. Ziaul Haq Rule) 6.6 49.32 346 103.53
1988-99( Benazir & Nawaz Democratic Rules 4.13 (37.42) 412 19.08
1999-2008 (Gen. Pervez Musharraf Rule) 5.4 30.75 709 72.09
SUMMARY (1951-2008) (per capita GNP during 2007-08 was $1,085)
25 years of democratic rule 3.86
33 years of dictatorial rule 5.84

The table developed from the country's basic economic data reveals some interesting facts - the most obvious being that the country and the masses are invariably better off during the autocratic rules. During the four dictatorial regimes of General Ayub Khan, General Yahya Khan, General Ziaul Haq and General Pervaiz Musharraf, the economy yielded a much higher GDP growth rate in comparison to the intermittent democratic eras. Similar was the case with the per capita GNP which means that the living for the masses was much easier during Generals' rule. The comparison between the intermittent rules shows that the Ayub era recorded a 93 per cent rise in the average GDP growth rate against the preceding 7 year democratic rule. The Ziaul Haq era recorded a 49 per cent average GDP growth rate as compared to a corresponding negative rate of 20 per cent during the ZAB era. The era after Ziaul Haq is spread over 12 years comprising 4 successive incomplete rules of democracy during which a negative average GDP growth of 37 per cent was recorded vis--vis the Zia rule. Finally, during Musharraf era a 31 per cent average GDP growth was achieved in comparison to the preceding 12-year democratic rule of Benazir and Nawaz. During the said Musharraf era, the per capita GNP was increased from $412 to $1,085. In the aftermath of the Musharraf deposition, the country's economy and the masses are struggling for survival. The succeeding democratic setup gets little time to work for the stabilization of the economy. The counterpart democratic forces don't believe in allowing them some breathing space by keeping them engaged in one issue after the other.

This study by no means suggests that the army rule is the best form of governance. What we have so far failed to realize is the fact that the yawning gap between the educational, governance and systemic levels of the west and economies like Pakistan makes us a doubtful starter for the adoption of a highly sophisticated western democratic style. Under the US democratic system, the presidential candidate is made to go through the most relentless process of electioneering where his weaknesses are exposed and strengths come to the forefront. His crisis handling abilities and understanding of the most pressing economic and political issues are tested through an interface with both the supporting and the rival group voters.

On the contrary, in our case, the interface with the masses takes place during the election season when the aspiring candidates put at display their histrionic abilities. The attendant masses are administered heavy doses of emotional rhetoric devoid of sense and logic. Another interface takes place during campaigning against the ruling group, no matter who it may be. Highly charged masses are made to believe that the alleviation of their woes depends on the deposition of the rulers. The masses take the bait and risk their lives and belongings to change the government, only to find at a later stage that the successors were even bigger tyrants. This process of premature government-changes continues ad infinitum. Every premature government change entails huge economic cost that is passed on by the successors to the masses in the shape of new taxes, higher utility charges, increased transport fares and hiked food prices. Country suffers from flight of capital, dwindling business and trade activities, higher input costs for the industry resulting in lesser and expensive outputs, and a fresh round of inflation.

This study simply spurs the masses on to ask a question of their democratic idols. The question in simple words could be, "Why our lives become more miserable after we put you on the throne you so intensely long for during your days of ouster"?