In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful




[Shamim A Siddiqi, New York]


Democracy in Asia is on trial. It is no where in its perfect form. It is being practiced in some countries from Indonesia to Israel: somewhere it is in its full fledged form where, in terms of Poet Iqbal, the “heads are counted, but no weight is given to their verdict.”  Somewhere it is in limping form as in Central Asian countries and somewhere it is in the state of suffocation as in Pakistan where it is hijacked and usurped by the military dictator Perveez Musharraf. In Afghanistan it was introduced in a truncated form with the election of its President under the domination of foreign military vigilance and control. Elections to Assembly are yet to be held in September 05. In Iraq the situation is quite different. Elections were held on January 30 under strict control and supervision of 150,000 Allied forces with a continuous haggling and bargaining to elect its President and two Vice- Presidents. Sunni are still standing at margin and Kurdish are demanding their lion share to have autonomy in their region with their own militia. There is yet to go a long way in Iraq to have a democracy worth its name that says with courage to the occupied forces “good-by” and people of the land take the affairs of the country in their own hands.


Recently elections were held in the two Central Asian Muslim states. They were farce, and stand disputed and both the countries are facing violent demonstrations. In Nepal democratically elected government was overthrown by the king and election will now be held in three years placing the country in the state of chaos by Marxist gorillas. China and North Korea who inhabit the greater chunk of Asian population are barren in the name of democracy while Japan is enjoying limited democracy under the protection of occupied American forces. The Middle Eastern Arab world has just started to breathe a distant breeze of democracy. The only exceptions are that of Turkey, Malaysia, Iran, Israel and India      


In these countries elections are held at regular interval. They have elected parliamentary governments and Prime ministers to run the affairs of the states. But the nature of democracy in each country is different. Turkey is controlled by constant interference of its military hierarchy. They have massacred its elected government many a times in the past and that sword is still hanging. Malaysia is controlled by a thin majority of Malays. They retain the ruling power under their constitution. Iran is having regular elections after the departure of Shah but the supreme does not lie in the hands of the people and their representative but in the hands of Ruling Council that can do or undo any law that does not suit its will. Thus it has rendered itself as an “oppressive” theocratic” state on the pattern of Israel which is secular in name only but is totally run as per dictates of their Jewish faith, believes and centuries-old myths and Biblical stories where the Muslim minority is treated “untouchables’ of India and second-grade citizens, a farce in the name of democracy. 


Now India is the last country left to be examined on the criterion of democracy that West values most. No doubt in the free world, it is the greatest democracy with 1.2 billion population and a huge electorate where elections are held in stages to make it manageable administratively. West has a great respect for it and acknowledge India’s supremacy in democracy. It has a secular constitution and a secular government to run its affairs. But India is a huge country with big size minorities whose rights are guaranteed in the constitution. Unfortunately, these securities are on paper only. Scheduled Cast constitutes about 200 millions. They are the untouchable in the Brahamanic dominated Indian political hierarchy. So is the case with Muslim, Christian, Buddhist, Sikhs and many other microscopic minorities whose human rights are always ignored, side-tracked and practically denied in spite of the fact Indian constitution uphold them. If anywhere in a democratic country the human rights are denied in the most perverted from it is in India. Muslims are being killed in planned Hindu-Muslim riots. Dalits are mockingly exploited at every level of their social, economic and political life. Women rights are ignored and are not treated at par with the men folk. Sikhs are coercively treated as Hindus whereas they are neither Hindu nor Muslim.


Thus India do commands as the most sophisticated democracy in the world but equally it is most underdeveloped one where democracy is knocking to each nook and corner of the country at every door but its blessings that are admissible to Europe and America are far from realization. People of India are living under the shadow of a “hoax” democracy and West is magnifying in its ploy to defeat the rising head of Chinese dragon.


The scenario of the democratization of Asia that President Bush and his Secretary of State Dr. Rice are advocating day in and day out are just befouling themselves and simple minded “ignorant” American people. Democracy in its truest form will dominate Asia only when somewhere Islam becomes a political identity in some Muslim land and it displays  what are the human right and  how they can be protected, preserved and enjoyed equally by the have’s and the have-nots, the rulers and the ruled, the majority and the minorities. Till that time democracy as an “ism” is a “misnomer” whether it is the West or the East.



Shamim A Siddiqi

March 21, 2005