After two consecutive democratic tenures, it is believed that democracy is taking root in Pakistan. The country’s political elite, think tanks, opinion makers, and media, always try to maintain a strong narrative that the dream of a prosperous Pakistan could only materialise through democracy. Abraham Lincoln, American statesman and the 16th president of the United States, once explained democracy with these words: “Government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.” Later, these lines became the definition of ‘democracy’. But the last part of the quote “shall not perish from the earth” is actually a denouement for the successful social democratic structure. During the last seven decades, frequent military interventions did not allow the public to grow as “democratic generations”. Religion remained the strongest force used to strengthen these dictatorships, and in the name of religion, the concept of an egalitarian society was buried forever leaving no chance for its resurrection. In a country like Pakistan, political parties and politicians are answerable to the masses, institutions, and courts; whereas non-elected intruders use weaponised religious ideologies to continue their hegemony. Had the country experienced democracy during the last 70 years, the present chaotic political structure would have been a part of history and Pakistan would have had strong democratic institutions. In oppressive dictatorships, democracy is replaced by other forms of governance; and in a predominantly religious country like Pakistan, religion remains an unchallenged entity. As a result, sectarianism, and violation of human and minority rights, generate social intolerance, and cause an ideological divide among different sections of society. Over the years, a majority of people belonging to one section of religion have acquired legitimacy to live and enjoy freely, whereas Shias, Ahmadis, Christians, Hindus, Sikhs and other communities have lost their right to live in their motherland. Even though the last decade saw democracy, unfortunately, time and again, democratic governments used the religion card as and when they needed to shelter their crowns. After the last dictator government, because of the unseen fear of an extra-constitutional invasion, democratic governments failed to deliver. At times, due to their political rhetoric, some even intentionally ignored certain important issues of the public utility, such as the active but direct political participation of minorities and women in the parliamentary politics. Apparently, in 2008, the democratic government did everything to erase Musharraf’s policy remnants. However, a policy regarding minority representatives is still in place. Although the calculated percentage of minorities never exceeded three per cent, they represent three million minority voters who are desperate to elect their representatives with their direct votes. How can we say that democracy has been implemented in the real sense when certain heads of major political parties are to decide the fate of minorities? One possible answer might be that the small percentage of minorities is insignificant when it comes to the present political structure. Has any political party ever considered how the participation of religious minorities has gradually decreased over the years? One cannot prove the required level of tolerance, equality and social justice when they do not face dissent. In the modern world, co-existence exhibits more tolerance and a higher level of human rights. Regrettably, there is an extreme political system in Pakistan where three million voters have been deprived of electing their political representatives only because of their faith, sect or religion. The elected political representation is the real voice of the relative communities whereas the selected members of parliament, belonging to religious minorities, have very limited mandate to speak. During PML-N’s tenure, a few members of the national and provincial assemblies, who belonged to religious minorities, tried to speak up. However, for the upcoming elections, their names have been dropped from the priority list of their respected political parties During Pakistan Muslim League – Noon (PML-N)’s tenure, because of media pressure, a few members of the national and provincial assemblies belonging to religious minorities tried to speak for their communities. However, their names have been dropped from the priority list of their respected political parties, for the upcoming election. In 2014, the Supreme Court of Pakistan issued a verdict that minorities should be given the right to elect their representatives. In another judgement regarding the Urdu title used for Christian minority, the Supreme Court allowed Christians to be called ‘Masihi’ and not ‘Esai’. After the Quetta Church bombing, the Supreme Court again had to intervene so that the victims and their families could acquire their due compensations. These are a few examples where another branch of the law had to intervene to secure minority rights. During the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) government, Shahbaz Bhatti, the only Christian cabinet minister, tried to speak for the release of Asia Bibi and lost his life at the hands of Islamists. Since then, no minority political leader has dared to speak for their due rights in the country. This deformity lies in the Constitution, which never allowed minorities to claim their political rights. This can be solved by bringing new legislation so minorities may elect their own representatives. Otherwise, the definition of democracy -”the government of the people, by the people and for the people” – cannot be justified. The writer can be reached at Kaleem.firstname.lastname@example.org Published in Daily Times, June 30th 2018.