By Shahvaiz Fawad
Writer is a UK based Pakistani student of Essex University UK.
The Pakistani nation throughout its history has been really confused about what type of government suits our needs and requirements. The democracy lovers or liberals always point out that a democratic government is appropriate for Pakistan, and state that it took the USA 100 years to achieve democratic stability and it took Great Britain 200 Years to become a democratically prosperous nation. Hence Pakistan should continue with its democratic rule and maybe after 100-200 years our country might become prosperous. This approach is not practical as Pakistan has not fulfilled the pre-requisites of democracy and the current situation of our country shows us that the democratic system in Pakistan is a sham. Then there is the religious section of our society who point out that in order for Pakistan to be successful we need to follow the model of the Gulf States in the Middle East. This theory again, is not useful as Pakistan does not have massive oil reserves like those countries and the version of Islam(Salafism), practiced in those countries does not suit Pakistan at all, as we are already suffering from religious extremism in this country due to illiteracy,poverty, corruption and a lack of education. Another excuse for Pakistan’s shortcomings is with regards to time. Many political analysts in this country say that it has only been 69 years since Pakistan was made, and it still needs a lot of time in order to transform itself into a stable country, hence it is important that we stick with the current system and move at a slow pace so that one day Pakistan would become successful. This is such a lame excuse in my opinion as there are so many countries throughout the world that have gone through a revolution, been decimated because of war or have gained their independence in the 20th Century. Yet these nations have managed to achieve success in a short period of time and have not come up with excuses for their failures.
This list includes countries like Iceland, Finland, Republic of Ireland, Germany, Austria, Japan, China, Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea, Turkey, Russia and even Iran for that matter. The interesting thing about the countries mentioned above is that they all went through different phases in terms of their history yet they still managed to achieve stability in their respective countries.
Germany and Japan had been completely wreaked after their defeats in WWII.Yet both Countries have achieved great heights in the following 70 years after the war. Germany had been divided into two parts i.e. East Germany and West Germany in 1949 and had only been fully unified in 1990. But still Germany is the leading industrialised nation of Europe. Similarly Austria had regained its status as a sovereign nation in 1955 after Anschluss and has become a prosperous nation in Europe due to its tourism, economy and good use of parliamentary system. China and Iran have both undergone revolutions which changed their political system I.e. the Chinese revolution (1949) and the Iranian revolution (1979).The revolution in China turned the country into a Communist/Authoritarian state, which ultimately laid the foundation of a modern, industrialised and economically efficient China in the future. The revolution in Iran changed the country into a semi-autocratic theocratic Republic, and despite sanctions on that country, Iran still managed to achieve some sort of stability and has done a good job in terms of health, literacy and development.
Both Malaysia and Singapore can be considered as role models for the rest of the world in terms of their development, literacy, standard of living as well as very good health and education systems being present in both countries. But the most impressive thing about those countries is that they have both achieved great heights in such a short period of time. Malaysia became independent from the British in 1957 whereas Singapore managed to get independence from Malaysia in 1965. Both nations managed to achieve success due to authoritarian rulers in both countries. Lee Kuan Yew (1959-1990) changed Singapore from a third world state into a first world state in just 30 years. Mahathir Mohammed (1981-2003) had modernised and liberalised Malaysia to a great extent which allowed it to become an extremely developed nation according to Asian standards. More importantly both countries are multi-ethnic and multi-religious yet they use this diversity in a good way and promote their culture through it.
South Korea (formed in 1948) is also a good example of democracy and is one of the leading industrialised nations of Asia which also has a good education and health system. Republic of Ireland (finally losing dominion status from British Empire in 1937) has also practiced parliamentary democracy to good effect and has consistently had coalition governments and no single party has had complete power over the affairs of the country. The Republic of Turkey (1923) has also been present for only 90 years and has had an interesting history. Mustafa Kemal Ataturk had modernised the Turkish nation along European lines and also began the process of Turkification of the Turkish nation. Despite having some troubled periods due to consistent military coups, Tayyip Erdogan has improved the situation of Turkey to a great extent, since he came to power in 2002.He greatly improved the infrastructure of Turkey, the transport system and also strengthened the economy of the nation. This has allowed Turkey to become the 18th largest economy of the world by GDP.Russia has also performed well in terms of political, economic and development standards ever since Vladimir Putin came to power in 1999.Putin,despite being an authoritarian ruler has made Russia a major player in International politics.
Iceland and Finland have also achieved a lot of success in such a short period of time. Iceland (gained full independence from Denmark in 1944) industrialised their fisheries and also used the Marshall aid given by USA to good effect. Finland had gained independence from the Russians in 1918 and has also reached a very high pedestal in terms of politics, economics and human development. Both these nations have 100% literacy, a large amount of book readers in their respective countries, great education and health systems. Like other Scandinavian countries in the region both Finland and Iceland have adopted the Nordic-style Social Welfare system i.e. Social Democracy where the state provides universal healthcare, public pensions, low barriers to free trade, strong property rights as well as a high percentage of workers belonging to a labour union.
So these are some of the countries and their systems which Pakistani people can study and learn from, if we want our nation to progress in the future.