Political intolerance


Being considered a popular form of government in the world, democracy derives its strength from the masses, who had a strong say in policies and decision-making of governments while accepting each other’s criticism for bringing about improvement in the system.
Therefore, democracy is more than just a set of government institutions as it largely depends on political tolerance, values, mindset, practices and norms inevitable for socioeconomic growth and human development. It is rightly said by the former US President Abraham Lincoln, “democracy is the government of the people, by the people, and for the people.”
In democracy, people elect their representatives to govern them through a parliamentary form of government for five years and take decisions for their well-being.
In the ancient times, many forms of governments’ including monarchy, aristocracy, colonialism and dictatorship were practiced in the world but all these systems were gradually replaced following the introduction of democratic form of government in ancient Greece.
The notion of democracy is basically stemmed after the treaty of Westphalia (1648) and it became socially more favorable after the French Revolution in 1789, that political philosophers like Rousseau also advocated about democracy as the most justifiable form of government to address the people’s issues based on political tolerance and acceptability of each others’ mandates.
Until the mid-20th-century, democracy did not achieve smooth sailing and had to compete with the challenges of nazism, fascism and totalitarianism till the end of the World War II. Eventually, after 1945, the norms of democracy became more famous across the world including the Subcontinent.
Democracy had also introduced in Pakistan and India after achieving independence from British in August 1947, however, this system could not flourish in the former due to unavailability of constitution and untimely deaths of the father of the nation and first governor general of Pakistan, Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah on September 11, 1948 and first Prime Minister of Pakistan, Nawabzada Liauqat Ali Khan on October 16, 1951.
Democracy was derailed several times in the country after political parties did not accept each other’s’ mandates due to political intolerance and agitation by overthrowing political governments.
Pakistan has a long history of political intolerance where losing parties and candidates leveled serious rigging elections against winners which either led to premature dissolution of the national and provincial assemblies or midterm election besides derailment of democracy four times. The government of Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto was overthrown after the nine religious-political parties of the joint opposition from the platform of Pakistan National Alliance (PNA) had launched mass agitation movement due to political intolerance besides claiming electoral fraud and riggings allegations during the general elections of March 7, 1977.
The PNA had started agitation movement after it bagged only 36 seats and PPP secured landslide victory with 155 seats, one seat was won by the PML (Qayyum) and eight seats were clinched by the independent candidates in the total 200 seats of the Parliament during 1977 general elections.
In spite of strong denial of the rigging allegations by the PPP, the PNA’s agitation movement sparked riots and unrest in the country after massive demonstrations and violent anti-Bhutto protests.