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Democratic Centralization vs Rule of Law based Decentralization

Our political dynamics are changing drastically with new players emerging and old players losing their positions. We are also seeing a power struggle between so called Rightists vs Leftists or Seculars vs Theocrats and somewhere there are parties which place themselves in-between. People are even talking about Judicial Martial Law.

But over all out look shows that the focus is on putting together a centralized system with some aspects of democracy. Our feudal culture, history of martial laws and domination of state institutions have restricted our minds to run things from centre with iron fist or authoritarian ways.

What is lacking in this approach is the realization of our diversity in the society. We are a country with diversified ethnic, sectarian and other social classes. Many of us cite China as an example and consider their Democratic Centralization as an ideal concept for Pakistan. We need to know that China has a dominant socialist ideology and their culture is pretty much same throughout China. They have a civilization which can be called as a Chinese Civilization. On the other hand Pakistan doesn’t have a single Pakistani Civilization. Pakistan is on the meeting point of several civilizations on both sides of Indus and which show different cultural and demographic colors if we move from Karachi to K2.

We cannot have a same system for Karachi and FATA or Islamabad and Dera Bugti. Attempts were made by Military dictators like Zia, Musharraf and Ayub who tried to implement their personal ideologies on the whole country and ending up creating a mess. Similarly civilian feudal-corporatists also tried to implement their vision on the whole country and again added to the mess. Even those who talk about liberalism have their own sectarian, ethnic and social class prejudices backing their ideals.

We need a decentralized system where federal government has minimum authority to run defense, dispute resolution and few other things. Even with them a concept of voluntary involvement and local considerations need to be taken into account. We need a system where decision making is brought to the local level which will also ensure merit among different localities selecting their leaders. It is unfair for those who don’t elect a corrupt government but they also have to face the bad consequences of its actions. To keep things in tact we can have a constitutional setup where rules of engagements should be mentioned between different constituents of the country. In short we need a “Rule of Law based Decentralization”.

This decentralization should be in Governance, Legislation and Economics. This is not something impractical; we can see some colors of it in countries like United States or Australia. Obviously for that we need to consider the ideology which dominated at the time of the creation of the country which is also reflected in the Objective Resolution. If we talk about Islam then “Meesaq e Madina” can show us how Muslims and Jews made an agreement by accepting each other as a reality. Even in a centralized country like China, they had to make adjustments in Xinjiang and Hong Kong. Even Russia has different Republics with some autonomy. In Pakistan’s case Quaid e Azam made agreements with our tribes which resulted in the tribes becoming part of Pakistan. These agreements allowed the tribal people to maintain their autonomy and also accept few fundamental laws of Pakistan. We also need a loose central structure to avoid the class clashes.

At the moment power is concentrated to center and everyone wants to control it either through the power of masses or power of gun. We even cannot afford a democratic system where 90% decides to suppress the remaining 10%. It will create the sense of alienation and hopelessness in the parties not in power and so can result in an undesirable retaliation which can be damaging for all.

We need to come out of the copycat mentality and be genuine in our approach as our problems are genuine and bit different from where we are trying to import the solutions.Mutual existence can only prevail through mutual acceptance of each other as a reality.

Note : A bit edited version is also available on http://blogs.thenewstribe.com/blog/66276/decentralization-a-solution/

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