Pakistan’s Hybrid Democracy

One. A mixed rule by elected representatives and military establishment is a hybrid democracy. The combined ability of the military establishment and elected representatives to run the core affairs of the state is the emerging model of Pakistan’s democracy. (The military establishment includes the intelligence agencies that collect data for national security.) Pakistan does not endorse the separation of the military from civilian rule, a thesis of Western democracy.

Two. The hybrid government designs foreign policy, national security, and economy, the core affairs of the state. Elected representatives alone do not decide foreign policy, national security, or economic policy. The hybrid model is primarily designed for the federal government. If the federal hybrid model is fruitful, the model might also influence the provinces.

Three. Following the Western model, Pakistan’s constitution prescribes a parliamentary government with no military role in core decision-making. After several military takeovers, hybrid democracy has emerged as a model of government acceptable to the military establishment. However, the advocates of Western democracy resent hybrid democracy.

Four. Coalition governments are most suitable for the hybrid model. When a single political party obtains a sizable majority in the national parliament, the party asserts its unilateral authority, undermining the hybrid model. A parliament with no majority for any political party safeguards the hybrid model.

Five. Pakistan allows hundreds of political parties to register and contest elections. This freedom of political association vitalizes the democratic process, inviting diverse political views. However, the hybrid model does not tolerate overt criticism of the military establishment. Political parties that accept the hybrid model are much more successful in forming governments.

Six. Media houses understand the hybrid model. Some explain the model, while a few criticize it. Journalists and media house owners who accept the hybrid model suffer no consequences, but those who criticize it face penalties.

Seven. Pakistan will do exceptionally well and become a formidable economic and military power if political parties, judges, journalists, academics, and intellectuals accept the hybrid model as a reality. A rejection of the hybrid model sows chaos and instability.

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