Characteristics of Political Culture of Pakistan
The main features of political culture in Pakistan can be listed as follow:
Passive Role of People:
In the first place though Pakistan opted for democratic system in which all the citizens were expected to play some role in the political process but the people have remained relatively passive. The real power in Pakistan is wielded by the feudal lords, big industrialists and some active leaders who exercise great power and receive the benefits of the system. These leaders have been able to successfully give a projection that since they played a major role in the attainment of independence; they alone possess the capacity to provide fruits of freedom to the people. The lack of education and political experience among the common people has also promoted this feeling. The presence of poverty, disease and lack of education has also greatly handicapped large section of society from taking active part in the political process.
Dynastic party system:
The lack of effective party system in Pakistan has greatly undermined the role of people in political process. No doubt, Pakistan adopted party system on the pattern of Westminster system, but these parties could not work in true spirit and gradually suffered a decline because they refuse to hold intraparty elections and opted for dynastic succession of the leadership. Moreover, no political party gained popular support in all the provinces resulting in the promotion of provincialism at the expense of nationalism. In short it can be said that lack of organised and competitive party system in Pakistan has greatly affected the political culture.
Lack of effective opposition has also greatly influenced the political culture of Pakistan. Generally the ruling parties in Pakistan have tried to project the opposition parties as a threat to the national security. Even when the opposition parties were permitted to operate in the country they were not able to post any serious competition. Opposition parties have not played an active role in the legislative assemblies, but waited for their turn in power. No government can truly tread on the right path unless a united opposition played an active role. In Pakistan, weak opposition parties have failed to keep an effective check on the despotic powers of the government.
Role of Military Leaders:
The prominent role played by the military leaders in Pakistan has also influenced the political culture of our country. The military staged four successful coups and overthrew civilian government within few years. This became possible because the civilian leaders failed to come up to the expectations of the people in bringing about meaningful social, economic and political reforms. This encouraged the military leaders to assume power on the plea of saving the country from the internal disaster and disintegration. At the time of assuming power the military leaders held out promises of providing stability, prosperity and welfare of the people and promised to return to democratic rule at the earliest. However, actually once they were entrenched in power they tried to perpetuate military rule. Even when not in direct power, military in Pakistan hold considerable sway in the formulation of foreign and defence policies. This naturally had an adverse effect on the political culture of Pakistan.
The growing violence in Pakistan has adversely affected its political culture. As the democratic norms could not take proper rules, people try to bring about the necessary changes through violent methods. The first Prime Minister of Pakistan Liaqat Ali Khan was assassinated. Similarly Benazir Bhutto also suffered the same fate. This trend is certainly not in keeping with the true democratic culture.
In Pakistan money plays an important role in the political culture and process. The wealthy sections of the society are able to influence the political parties as well as the comment and managed to get those in power who are willing to promote their interests. This often leads to the neglect of the interests of the common people, which is not a healthy trend.
Centralisation of Power:
Pakistan has adopted centralised process of decision-making, which naturally results in the neglect of the people at the lower levels and gives rise to frustration. Instead of associating the people with the decision-making process at various levels, the political leaders have opposed decentralisation on the plea that grant of greater powers to the lower units would pose a threat to the unity and integrity of the country. Ironically, the local government institutions were bolstered during the military rules while the democratic governments refused to transfer to the local governments.