LAHORE (Staff Report) – The quality of democracy in Pakistan in 2015 has seen minor improvements, but has still struggled to reach the highs of 2013 after a turbulent 2014, according to a report released by PILDAT late on Tuesday.
In addition to the weakening writ of the civilian government and the growing role of the military in forming policies and taking decisions, the report expresses concern over the lack of improvement in the performance of the provincial and federal legislatures, especially the lack of priority afforded to its sessions by government ministers, including the Prime Minister, and opposition leaders, such as Imran Khan.
The report also notes that speedy and economical access to justice remains a major problem, as evinced by the increasing popularity of informal “Sharia” courts in major cities and the continual pendency of cases across most district-level courts. It also criticizes the lack of reform in the civilian court system during the first of the two-year period granted for the operation of military courts under the 21st Constitutional Amendment.
However, the report commends the superior judiciary for pushing through the most significant development for the quality of democracy this year: the holding of Local Government Elections.
While the report presents an encouraging outlook on the growth of the electronic and print media in terms of reach, it expresses concern over new forms of media control by the ‘establishment’ and various business interests.
The report also criticizes the National Accountability Bureau’s abdication of responsibility in seeing mega-corruption cases against the rich and powerful to their conclusion. These include cases against the Prime Minister, Chief Minister of the Punjab, former premiers, ministers and bureaucrats.