It is a good omen that a second democratic government is about to peacefully end its term. Democracy is chugging along, though not without glitches. The previous government may have ended on a good note, but their tenure is questionable. Their achievements could easily turn out to be inflated numbers. On the ground, it is yet to be known how many people have access to clean drinking water. Did health facilities improve? What about education? Hundreds of thousands of children of school-going age are out of schools. Quality education is still a distant dream for a majority of the population. Frequent power outages still persist. Natural gas is still not available in most parts of the country. Water crises, environmental issues, delays in the dispensation of justice, and burgeoning external debt are just some of the problems that the country is faced with. The rich are hardly affected by these problems. None of the mentioned problems, except for environmental disasters or global warming, can equally affect them. The problems mentioned above can only be solved by sincere representatives of the people. Pakistan’s democracy is not a democracy. According to Aristotle — who brackets democracy as a bad form of government — democracy is when the indigent, and not men of the property, are the rulers. However, in the past 70 years, the same dynasties, the Arbabs, the Makhdoms, the Khans and the nouveau riche etc. have been ruling the country. They either change parties or put their relatives in another party just to remain in power. They have ready-made solutions to the problems of the people and are skilful enough to grab their vote. Once in parliament, the elected representatives forget what they promised their voters. The classical Marxists hold the view that rulers draft and enact laws for their own sake, leaving the commoners to wallow in their dreams. Our politicians will never let true democracy prevail. They either change parties or put their relatives in another party just to remain in power. They have ready-made solutions to people’s problems and are skilled at grabbing their votes. Once in parliament, these elected representatives forget what they promised their voters The example of Pakistan and Israel being born on the basis of religious ideology is often cited. However, Israel — a tiny nation when compared to Pakistan — is a giant economy and far ahead of Pakistan in many ways. Who should be held responsible for this state of affairs? The bureaucracy, military, the religious establishment, politicians or the people themselves? All of them could be responsible in their own place, but the aristocracy and the poor class can be held directly responsible. The poor can be excused and exonerated on the plea that education precedes a vibrant democracy. Everywhere the rule of the thumb is: it is money that makes the mare go. Poor people cannot even think of contesting elections. The wealthy candidates with their fine suits, big cars, castle like homes, glib of the tongue, often long on promises and short on actions, at times, have a magical effect on voters. For their short-term personal greed and petty self-interests, the masses tend to forget the long-term greater interest of the nation. The scent of money and other related paraphernalia prove stronger than the sense of duty they owe to the nation and themselves. Our countrymen see their emancipation in religious ideals. A section of the masses cast their votes in the hope of getting rid of their problems. However, religion has also been used for personal gain. The priorities of the aristocratic class — euphemistically referred to by the PTI chairman as electable — needs to be harmonised and synchronised with the interests of the people. The vast gap is to be abridged between the haves, and the have nots. Until quality education is prioritised and the role of money is minimised, democracy, and overcoming the problems of the country and its people, will remain at worst a hallucination, akin to chasing a mirage, and at best a distant dream. The writer holds a PhD and teaches history at the University of Peshawar Published in Daily Times, June 29th 2018.