Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Saturday, October 20th, 2018

Vital Prerequisites to Democracy

Since the downfall of Taliban, we have been chanting the slogans of democracy and striving to form a democratic country but it is important to understand that there are certain conditions which are absolutely necessary for the success¬ful functioning of a democratic government. One of the most important essentials is a constitution. Constitution implies a rule of law rather than of men. Every citizen is granted equal right to pursue happiness, liberty and individuality, enshrined in the constitution, must be applied with letter and spirit, seeing as it curbs despotic tendencies of the rulers and safeguards the rights of the people. It ensures that there is no arbitrariness in governing people and members belonging to different groups are given an equal treatment.

No two human beings can ever think alike, it is natural to come across dissenting opinions at every step, in every field. True democratic spirit lies in overcoming dissent through discussion and persuasion and not through coercion.

Democracy requires not merely an absence of ignorance but also that the citizens are adequately educated. Proper education will produce a wise leadership and a vigilant public and ‘Eternal vigilance is the price of democracy’. If knowledge remains scanty, fragmentary and confined to narrow circles and if the mass of humanity remains steeped in igno¬rance and error, there can be no prospects for the success of democracy. Education makes citizens vigilant and also gives them the boldness to criticize government mea¬sures which are ill-conceived or harmful. In fact, education produces wise lead¬ership and an enlightened and alert public.

A free and fair press is another vital necessity for democracy to flourish. It ventilates public opinion and enables the government to frame policies in the interests of the masses.

The Media acts as a kind of liaison between the government and the people. It acquaints the people with the policy and principles of the government. At the same time, it reflects the public reaction to this policy and thus enables the government to modify it. Since it gives such extensive publicity to the move¬ments of the ministers and other higher-ups, it exercises a very sobering influ¬ence on them. It does not let them forget that they are in office as the represen-tatives of the people to whom they are finally answerable. It keeps a powerful check on the corruption and tyranny of the government. It is perhaps this aspect of a newspaper’s function that prompted Thomas Jefferson to remark, “Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter”.

For the health and efficiency of a democracy, an effective, vigilant and working opposition is indispensable. Strong opposition ex¬ercises a healthy restraint on the ruling party and prevents it from subjecting the people to arbitrary and despotic rule. No free large country has been without political parties. None has shown how a representative government could efficiently work in the absence of strong political parties. Effective opposition saves a country from turmoil; it safeguards it from coup d’état. If the party in power neglects public welfare, the voters can oust it and give power to the opposition.

A conflict of ideas is anytime better than a clash of arms. Without opposition the state has no elasticity, no true self determination. A constant probe into the activities of the government by the opposition keeps the government vigilant and prevents it from being arbitrary.

Legislative excellence is promoted by a recognized opposition. Good legislation is possible only when the law is discussed thread-bare before it enters the law book. Effective opposition also makes possible active and intelligent participation of public in the affairs of the government. Party campaigns are educational campaigns.

Propaganda through press, public meetings and pamphlets imparts political education to the masses and awakens them to their responsibility, opposition keeps a nation’s mind alive as the rise and fall of the sweeping tide freshen the water of long ocean inlets. Thus the public business suffers a great deal and the interest of the nation is neglected. Disagreements keep the public divided into hostile camps. The spirit of rivalry and animosity pollutes the social life in the country.

A sense of responsibility and a desire to give topmost priority to public interest against pen or party interest would certainly boost its image in the public eye. On the contrary, lack of discipline and constructive approach inevitably leads to instable confusion and reversal of economic progress.

It is now quite a few years since we embarked upon a democratic experi¬ment. Today, when we make an appraisal of our democracy, we find it still lacking in certain important requisites. Majority of our people are still illiterate. Glaring disparities between the rich and the poor not only persist but have become accentuated. There is no economic security; food is scarce, poverty appalling and unemployment rampant. Ethnicity and class exclusiveness still haunts our minds! Provincial and linguistic differences still create distrust and bitterness. The masses also lack civic probity. Corrupt and dishonest administration is eating into the very vitals of our democracy.

Democracy can only flourish in our country, given that the true essence of democratic values and culture, is understood, implemented and practiced devoid of discretion of any sort. Accordingly democratization of society leads to prosperous Afghanistan.