Day 4: Democracy a la Europe &/or the US restricts equality, justice & development Print E-mail
Pakistan March 28 2006 -- Tuesday -- Safar 27, 1427

KARACHI: Delegates disapprove of pro-West governance

By Mukhtar Alam

KARACHI, March 27: Delegates from different countries at the World Social Forum moot on Monday observed that there was almost no notion of collective rights or protection of citizens in the third world countries which were being run under ‘shadow democracies’.

They said that instead of ensuring a welfare and prosperity mechanism for each of their citizens, the countries were functioning and delivering under democratic discourses set by Europe or America for some limited groups of individuals only, which needed to be halted, with an affirmation that the world belonged to all human beings who deserved all opportunities of equality, justice and development.

Rallies, demonstration, meetings, discussions, seminars and workshops were held on the fourth day of the WSF event which has drawn a large number of participants, coming from various parts of the world with a sense that an imbalance had been aimed between the North and South in the garb of globalization.

The CIEDS Collective, India, organized a roundtable on ‘Democracy and its Future’ focussing on the challenges to democracy and suggesting new alternatives to the dominant discourse on development, peace and justice.

A social activist from Kenya, Wahukaara, said that there was a need to redefine the process of development and democracy so that people of the underdeveloped countries could reclaim their ownerships on their destiny and control, decision-making, trade reforms and law and order. “The idea of a just world that belongs to all of their populations could only be realized when there is no difference of North and South and there prevails a true concept of social welfare,” she said, adding that economy of a country should be dictated by values of lives and not for the purpose of profit only.

Expressing her dissatisfaction over the status of states and condition of their masses, another activists from India, Corinne Kumar, said that democracy today was being used as ‘magic word for destruction of masses’. “We have to examine that from where the political democracy is coming, as it is failing to give us a sense of equality while, on the other hand, the market dictates that fewer should prosper and millions of people reek below poverty line,” she remarking at there is some thing wrong with the democracy in our part of the world.

She expressed the view that seeing people through hegemonic eyes of the West or democratic discourses by the West would not help bridge the gap between different group of people. Efforts should be made on ground to protect citizens and their sovereignty.

Justice (r) Nasir Aslam Zahid said that democracy had been failing to bring social justice and benefits to common man. Pakistan, which has seen military and so-called political parties as ruler, regrettably is now unable to ensure a real devolution of power even in the name of local governments.

He suggested that poverty alleviation and quality of social justice could be ensured only through a real democratic process which involved common persons in decision-making and did not pave the way for a ‘Junta of 400-500 people’ who would rule the country for long.

George Kutty, another activist from India, said that the world was getting divided after the 9/11 not only on the basis of the rich and poor, but also on the basis of religion. He was critical of the civil and military nuclear projects, saying that being citizens of democratic countries, peoples of India and Pakistan should question the justification for undertaking such destructive projects.

He said that under the emerging phenomena, America was now free to hit a population not obeying it, which gave to understand that democracies in our part of the world were playing ‘dummy’ and serving only a coterie of external quarters.

A delegate from Indonesia, Rita, stressed the need for fighting against what the World Bank and UNDP programmes had designed in the name of democracy and reforms as they were far from real democracy.

At another seminar, on human rights in Pakistan, HRCP Secretary General Iqbal Haider said that besides judiciary, the executive, legislature and civil society were also required to play their role in ensuring protection to the life and property of citizens.

He noted that the judiciary had been unable to play its role towards the protection of human rights as it lacked the required institutional capacity. The capacity of judiciary in most of the Saarc countries was not up to the mark or matching to the number of population and cases of violations, he said, adding that people were normally deprived of their rights amid lack of political will to address the situation.

Speaking at a seminar organized by the ActionAid Pakistan, Farooq Tariq, Secretary General of the Labour Party, said that industries and utilities meant for public welfare should not be privatized. He was also critical of the government saying that the political parties, sitting on either side of the fence, were extending all support to Gen Pervez Musharraf by one way or the other in toeing the World Bank agenda of privatization, which was not acceptable to the masses.