Lessons Pakistan can learn from Turkey and Egypt

In  recent years, and decades, the Islamic world has seen various military interventions in the political affairs of Muslim countries. Pakistan, Algeria, Turkey and the recent events in Egypt are just a few of the many. This highlights one thing: democracy hasn’t taken roots in most of these countries. In Islamic countries, democratic GOVT are toppled frequently, reasons presented are sometimes their incompetence (even if popular) and in some case their lack of popularity and support (even if competent). Following is a list of things that Pakistan can learn from the recent coup in Egypt and the mass protest against the authoritarian rule of Erdogan in Turkey.

  1. Never celebrate a coup: while most of us would remember the images of ignorant Pakistanis distributing Mithai (sweets), when elected Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who had two third majority in parliament, was sacked by general Musharraf. In Egypt only few thousands cheered the sacking of Morsi and even better, thousands made it to the streets to support him and raise their voice against the unlawful coup by the army.
  2. Believe in democracy: people of Egypt got a very short opportunity to taste democracy, though not in the best form, but still there they are standing up for their leader and condemning the people who intend to sabotage it.
  3. Few would have thought that Nawaz Sharif will make a comeback in the country’s mainstream politics, but here he is the third time prime minister, and the only one in the country to hold this record. How? Because of democracy.
  4. Democratic leaders have to take tough decision, yet it’s imperative that they don’t lose their popularity.
  5. One big problem faced by countries like Pakistan, Egypt, Turkey and Algeria is the civil-military power imbalance. Obviously if the GOVT is corrupt, not making the right decisions, instead of improving the economic conditions in the country it degrades it, not able to solve problems but instead adds to the problems, it will ultimately lose the support of its people. If the GOVT wants to stay in power and shift the civil-military power imbalance in its favor, there is one only way of doing that: solve critical problems that are crippling the country and spur economic development. This will not only help GOVTs stabilize its own position but will also restore the faith of people in its GOVT and indirectly in democracy.  This is what exactly happened in the case of Turkey. Just like Pakistan, their armies had frequent interventions in their political affairs, but since Erdogan has spurred economic growth and was also able to solve key problems; he is able to look everybody in the eye and is holding the office for the third consecutive time.
  6. Democracy doesn’t take routes and solves problems in just one year (or a few years for that matter). It is a process that slowly but persistently results in the development of a country. As a wise person said once, “democracy needs four consecutive elections, after every GOVT completing its term”.