Is Pakistan ready for democracy? Not yet.

For more than half its existence, Pakistan has been under military rule. The first time a coup took place, General (later Field Marshal) Ayub Khan snatched power in 1958 because the civilians couldn’t run the country without quarreling among themselves. In those days, governments used to fall whenever a demonstration took place. There was one politician (I. I. Chundrigar) who was prime minister for one month only. It is well known that countries where illiteracy is high always prosper under military or autocratic rule. South Korea, Taiwan and Malaysia made tremendous progress under dictatorships. This was the case with Pakistan as well.

The eleven years under Ayub Khan saw Pakistan being heavily industrialized and described as a role model for other Third World countries. Unfortunately for Ayub, his reign ended after allegations of corruption against his sons. After the secession of Bangladesh (another event which was the direct result of politicians not being able to agree on vital issues), we had six years of so-called democracy under a man who was the only civilian martial law administrator in the country (Z. A. Bhutto). As expected, his rule was also riddled with corruption, and he had to pay with his life for not realizing how unpopular he was. Then followed eleven years of prosperity under General Zia, followed again by ten years of corrupt civilian rule. The problem with Pakistan is that it has a very low literacy rate. In a country where half the people subsist on one meal a day, and most men don’t have enough money to send their children to schools, you can’t expect people to elect the right people to lead them. Which is why Pakistan will not be ready for democratic rule as long as its people remain heavily illiterate.