By: Laiq Ahmed Atif, president Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat Malta
“Government of the people, by the people, for the people” these are the words of US president Abraham Lincoln to define democracy. The term democracy comes from the Greek language and means “rule by the (simple) people”. Philosophers have defined the essential elements of democracy as separation of powers, basic civil rights and human rights, religious liberty and separation of religion and state.
The online Wikipedia describes: “Democracy is a form of government in which all citizens have an equal say in the decisions that affect their lives. Ideally, this includes equal (and more or less direct) participation in the proposal, development and passage of legislation into law. It can also encompass social, economic and cultural conditions that enable the free and equal practice of political self-determination.”
A true democracy has two main pillars which make this system to progress more and in the right direction. First, democratic process of elections must be based on trust and integrity. So when one exercises his vote, he should vote for those who are most capable of discharging their national trust and are in themselves trustworthy. And second pillar is that whenever governments make decision; they should follow the principle of absolute justice. Be the matter political, religious, social or economic, justice may never be compromised. Hence no partisan interest or political consideration should be permitted to influence the process of decision-making. In the long run, every decision taken in this spirit is bound to be truly of the people, by the people and for the people.
In brief, the real democracy is the government chosen by people and that reflects the people in its pristine purity, where people’s voices are heard, where people have an equal right to express their decisions, where everyone has an equitable and fair treatment. I believe that, inasmuch as God’s sovereignty extends over the whole universe, the ultimate ideal of a state is universal federation, or confederation, of autonomous states, associated together for upholding freedom of conscience and for the maintenance of peace and co-operation in promoting human welfare throughout the world.
When we ponder over the current prevailing situation in Arab states, we can easily find that most of the rulers are not chosen by people, people have no right to speak out their opinions, their voices are not heard in the avenues of the governments and there only seems one man or one ideology show. These rulers once came in power, and remained for ages and now when the people have announce their decision, still they are trying to prolong their era.
They have exercised violence, government bodies and the police, which is duty bound to maintain the law, are being used against people to make their voices unheard and to make them silent. They have used heavy weapons against opposition and other political parties to save their so-called governments. Hundreds of people since have been killed mercilessly, thousands have been injured, thousands have been left as widows and orphans and the loss to the economy is also not less than millions.
This is totally unacceptable and absolutely against the basic freedom and fundamental rights of citizens of a country, and at large is against the country and its progress and competitiveness. I think they should have read what has been written on the wall, and they should have given the right to people to choose their leaders, and if they think that their existence is inevitable, still let the people decide and let the world judge how famous such leaders are.
This situation was unfolded in many countries; it started from Tunisia, moved to Egypt then translated into Libya, Bahrain, Yemen and Syria. This all happened because the rulers paid no attention to the problems of their people, their education and medical needs were not met according to the standards, their unemployment and job issues were not discussed properly.
I think a true democratic system of government should be a role model for these countries. And establishment of a government based on consultation, justice, equality and accountability is inevitable in these states. A mutual consultation is very important for a progressing and competitive government, as the essence of a true democracy is also mutual consultation. And when people will have the right of criticism and freedom of expression before the ruler, which are important features of democracy, then the government will progress smoothly and when government will be accountable, only then corruption can be stopped and fair dealing can be guaranteed.
The democracy in its letter and spirit is most certainly preferred to all other forms of government. However, there are many Arab lands exist under absolute monarchies or despotic rulers; or under dictatorships for decades. It is an irony of history that contemporary Arab states’ political thinkers and intellectuals, too, should now begin to see democracy as a model.
And time has come to give people their freedom and right to choose their leadership according to their choices and to decide their fate themselves and to choose democracy as their role model.