The very idea of a democracy is that it is meant to be representative of the people. The basic principles behind a democratic system of government is that the populace, the citizenry, the man on the street is to be represented as it is from among their ranks that their representatives are chosen and they are meant to represent the citizen’s best interest. In the words of a famous leader, government and by extension the entire democratic system is meant to be ‘for the people, of the people, by the people.’ This phrase perfectly encapsulates what a democracy is about. It is at first about a nation, a people and then about an individual, a person.
Of course democracies are about individuals and each individual has certain basic rights that such a type of government is meant to uphold. When we speak of representative governance, it is implied that the government represents a certain school of thought, a certain ideal. Of course these ideals are not those of a political party but those of individuals. Each individual has certain beliefs, certain ideals and these are meant to be reflected in the type of leaders and governments that they choose. Of course under a democracy, the electoral process often gives one political party precedence over another. This means that one point of view may be dominant over another. Of course this is the system but here a very important point is raised about the nature and quality of a democracy and that is, allowing for all points of views to be shared. Even if one political party is in government, democracies must allow for all opinions, even if they belong to the opposition or indeed a lone individual, to be heard. This is a fundamental right.
Under the Constitution of Pakistan, listed under the Fundamental Rights of a citizen, is the right to the freedom of speech and expression. This entails that all individuals, regardless of their caste, their colour, their creed or political affiliations, has the right to express themselves fully and by this token, to be heard as well. This is what democracies are all about. Even if an individual may disagree with the government, the government must still listen to their opinion for that is the basis of a democracy, that everyone is represented.
Of course in the time of elections, as Pakistan is due to be, come May 11, the need to ensure this right to the citizens of this country has never been greater. While different people may be represented by different political parties or choose to remain apolitical, each and every one of them has the right to express whatever opinion they may hold and in turn whichever political party comes to power must listen to them and if a valid point, must take into account.
It is often brought to light that while a democracy, the people’s voice, their issues, their problems and even their thoughts and opinions fall on deaf ears, with no action taken and no regard given. It is such instances that undermine a democracy and act counter to its very principles. Enshrined in the constitution, every citizen is given the right to express themselves and the government is duty bound to listen to them. This right is something that citizens should not take lightly nor believe is at the discretion of the government; it is theirs and every citizen must exercise it.