Before I begin, I will recap the first part of this piece. In the last piece, I attempted to highlight some factors that have hampered the growth of democracy in Pakistan; namely, weak colonial inheritances, bureaucracy, political elite, and of course the military. There isn’t a single factor to be blamed but multiple variables stemming from various sectors. No one problem worked in isolation, rather these variables often influenced one another. Nevertheless, some factors may have caused more damage to democracy in Pakistan. But the very focal question which we are facing as a nation after 70 years of our existence is, can democracy work? Promoting democracy consistently is not easy. It requires tough choices and a truly long-term vision. True democracy is one of the hardest political systems to put into place. To paraphrase Jean-Jacques Rousseau, a Genevan political philosopher of the eighteenth century, there can be no society which can fully claim to be democratic, as it would require the participation and decision-making of all the people, all the time. When evaluating the evolution of democracy in Pakistan, we must realise how diverse our society is. We would be fooling ourselves if we think that a country which has conservative, traditional models in its roots is going to become democratic overnight, or even in 70 years. But the task of creating a robust, thriving democracy is not impossible. If someone asks me to name a country that Pakistan should look towards as a role model, I will not wait a second before responding that Pakistan should look no further than its neighbour: India. The peaceful transfer of power has become a norm in India, between rival political parties following an election and it has wobble political theorists by consolidating democracy despite higher levels of poverty. Furthermore, Indian democracy has never faced any credible threat from its “apolitical” army to overthrow any democratically elected government. If someone asks me to name a country that Pakistan should look towards as a role model, I will not wait a second before responding that Pakistan should look no further than its neighbour: India In order to examine the state of democracy in any country, one should look at the four pillars on which the building of any democratic society stands: electoral arena that is a product of free and fair elections; the legislature which functions with independence and integrity; a judicial system which is blind to influence; and the media which holds the feet of power against fire. The imperfection or deletion of one or more of its pillars could shake the structure of the democratic building and turn it into a competitive authoritarian regime. It is imperative for any democratic state to keep and maintain all of its pillars in good shape. In addition, in an archetypal democratic society, its military will always submit to civilian authority. As we all know, since 2008, there are some important features of the current Pakistani political system that distinguish it from its past. One of these is its engagement in the uninterrupted election process, nevertheless flawed, but it has placed Pakistan on the longest phase of the electoral exercise. One of the difficulties in the case of Pakistan is that somehow the idea has become infused in our minds that once an election has been held, the result is a democracy. Such a facile analysis is not correct. Democracy is more than holding elections. It is true having an election is one of the determinants to move toward democracy, and it can be argued that we have now fulfilled the definition of “electoral democracy”, but we are still another 70 years away from having a full democracy. Once the transition to democracy begins, there is no guarantee of its success. Of course, some transitions have succeeded and some have failed. The recent examples can include Tunisia and Egypt. Both countries have suffered long periods of dictatorships under Ben Ali in Tunisia and Hosni Mubarak in Egypt. However, the toppling of both these entrenched autocrats in the aftermath of the infamous uprisings of the Arab Spring in 2011 opened the door for a political change in both countries. It led them to hold their first-ever democratically contested elections. However, both countries have followed divergent democratic trajectories: Tunisia has shown a greater degree of resilience to uphold the democratic norms and is successfully making its journey towards consolidating democracy in their country, whereas, Egypt has miserably failed in it and pushed back to authoritarian rule following the coup of 2013, after experiencing a brief spell of a democratically elected government, that of Muhammad Morsi of Muslim Brotherhood. Why Tunisia has succeeded and Egypt failed in grasping the opportunity to escort itself to democracy? One of the main differences was a lack of consensus and bridge-building among Egyptian political, judicial, and military elites alike. Ben Ali’s departure in Tunisia was seen as a golden opportunity for possible democratisation and all stakeholders worked tirelessly to overcome their political differences. Despite winning a decent majority in the Constituent Assembly election in 2011, the leaders of Ennadha, the then ruling party, reached out to smaller parties to make consensus on the contentious issues. The main motive of these political parties was not to give any excuse to their generals in uniform to intervene in politics. This, in turn, successfully sent their military into barracks. If I observe the contemporary situation of politics in Pakistan, it is reminiscent of post-Mubarak’s Egypt, where the elites from all corners of Egyptian polity were at loggerheads, perpetuating conflicts to reap their own benefits without thinking about the poor state of their nation, ultimately, leading to Abdel Fattah el-Sisi’s coup. Shahbaz Sharif is right when he says that there should be a wider scale of talks between political and military establishments to see how to steer Pakistan from troubled waters. However, this proposed talk should also determine how long it will take more for our military to subordinate itself to civilian authority. The military in Pakistan should not perceive this from a negative standpoint, but as the realist perspective of enhancing the legitimacy of the socio-economic and political betterment of the people of Pakistan. We should all hope the upcoming election will be the decisive turning point in the history of Pakistan’s democracy. Whoever wins in the election, our political leaderships must avail this opportunity to build stronger political institutions and scratch their heads to find some plausible ways to confine our military to the barracks. Otherwise, it will be business as usual, where the democracy will always emerge with strings, fenced with military’s barbed wires, and access to democracy will only be allowed if they conform to the generals’ rules, norms, and values. The writer is pursuing a degree in Comparative Politics, specialising in democratisation in the developing world, mainly emphasising on the Middle East (Egypt and Tunisia), at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) Published in Daily Times, July 5th 2018.