Political Stability and Democracy in Pakistan

Courtesy Reuters

BECAUSE the need for political stability is central to all the major questions faced by my country, I should like to concentrate on an analysis of this problem, suggesting the spirit and attitude with which it must be met rather than articulating a specific policy. In addressing an interpretation of this kind to a foreign audience, a Prime Minister comes under a double temptation--to boast and yet to be apologetic for the state of affairs in his nation. I hope to resist these temptations; it is better for us to be understood by our friends, and by ourselves, as we are, without exaggeration of virtues or indulgence of faults.

We in Pakistan sometimes show a tendency--and I know we have by no means a monopoly of it--to commend ourselves merely for the abstract goodness of our asserted purposes, without regard to whether our purposes have been fulfilled. So simple an action as the decision of a year ago to insert in the official title of our Republic an adjective descriptive of the prevailing faith has been made an occasion for exultation among us as if it were of itself a proof of courage and moral excellence. One often hears and reads assertions of our superiority in ideology, as if that counted in place of performance. On the other hand one sometimes hears it said in extenuation of deficiencies in our real political life that, after all, Pakistan as a state is not yet even ten years old. On hearing this excuse I usually point out that the circumstances of world politics permit no people to claim such exemptions from responsibility as might be appropriate to a child. A nation can earn the respect due to maturity by itself acting maturely. I reject any excuse based upon our youngness as a polity. Discovery and confession are first steps in the correction of faults. By mature and honest self-appraisal in place of self-praise we can best progress in earning the esteem we covet.

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