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Basic democratic 'skeleton' exists in country and its principles are being fulfilled: Asad Umar

Basic democratic 'skeleton' exists in country and its principles are being fulfilled: Asad Umar

Federal Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar on Wednesday said that a basic democratic "skeleton" existed in the country and its principles were being fulfilled through political parties, elections and voting.

Addressing a ceremony in Islamabad on the occasion of International Democracy Day, Umar said that Pakistan saw its first peaceful transfer of power from one civilian government to another in 2013. He added that the current 13-year period was the "longest continuous period" of the country's history in which the democratic process had worked.

"So the basic principles of a democratic skeleton are being fulfilled and there are political parties, elections happen, representatives come after voting and sit in assemblies and pass bills, the courts make independent decisions, the media does open criticism and the government is there as well that tries to work for the nation," the planning minister said.




He said if anyone were to fairly analyse the question of whether democracy had been strengthened in the country, they would agree that it had seen improvement and become stronger, with room for further progress.

"Remember this is that country in whose first 65 years there was not one peaceful transfer of power from one civilian government to another."

Meanwhile, in other countries, he said, democracy was being challenged and extremism and intolerance were on the rise with "unthinkable scenes" being seen in established democracies, referring to the assault on the US Capitol in January by disgruntled supporters of former US President Donald Trump.

"So Pakistan, where it's only been 13 years of a continuous process, there is a lot of room for improvement," he said. The planning minister highlighted what he considered to be the "main pillars" of democracy and outlined where he felt corrections were needed.

Regarding politicians, he said they would only be considered democratic representatives when they are "truly answerable to the people". He said elected representatives would have to answer in the courts if they violated any law and stressed the need for an effective accountability system.

More to follow.

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