Even if the state of Pakistan has only existed since 1947, the residents are proud of the country’s 5000-year history. In the short period of its existence, the state experienced a rapid interplay of civil and military governments, which did little to establish and stabilize democratic institutions.
Independence Day: August 14, 1947
Head of state: Dr. Arif-ur Rehman Alvi
Head of government: Imran Ahmed Khan Niazi
Political system: Parliamentary republic
Democracy Status Index (BTI): Rank 102 of 137 (2020)
Corruption Index (CPI): Rank 120 (out of 180) (2019)
The founders of the state
Muhammad Ali Jinnah
Venerated as “Quaid-i-Azam” (great leader) Muhammad Ali Jinnah (1876-1948) is a symbol of national identity. His portrait can be found in all public buildings, his birthday (December 25th, 1876) is a national holiday. The fact that the Indian Muslims received their own state in 1947 after the end of the British-Indian colonial empire is considered to be his merit. However, Jinnah did not want an Islamic state, but an independent, secular Muslim state with a parliamentary-democratic structure, in which religious and ethnic minorities enjoy the same rights as Muslims. His presidential speech to the Constituent Assembly on August 11, 1947 illustrates this:
“You are free, you are free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques or to any other places of worship in the State of Pakistan. You may belong to any religion or caste or creed – that has nothing to do with the business of the state. […] My guiding principle will be justice and complete impartiality, and I am sure that with your support and cooperation, I can look forward to Pakistan becoming one of the greatest nations of the world. ”
(M. Ali Jinnah in his address to the constituent assembly in Pakistan on August 11, 1947)
As he died of cancer just one year after independence, he was unable to fully implement his political goals.
State philosopher and poet: Illama Iqbal
Muhammd Iqbal (1877-1938) was Jinnah’s companion and poet and philosopher who wrote his works in the Urdu and Persian languages. Due to his studies and his doctorate in philosophy and law in Cambridge, Heidelberg and Munich, he dealt intensively with Western philosophy and was enthusiastic about it. Even today, Illama Iqbal (scholar Iqbal) is not only regarded as a philosopher and poet in Pakistan, but also as the spiritual founder of the state, because it was he who brought the idea of an independent state to the table at the 1930 Muslim League congress. Many of his works have been translated into German by Prof. Annemarie Schimmel. A street in Heidelberg and a monument in Munich were also dedicated to him.
Form of government
A democratic form of government
According to commit4fitness, Pakistan’s constitution provides for representative parliamentary democracy. The state president has a function comparable to that of the German federal president, even if the presidents repeatedly tried to expand their power through constitutional amendments. According to the constitution, this is elected by an electoral body consisting of the two federal parliaments and the regional parliaments of the four provinces for five years. Parliament has two chambers: the Senate (upper house) and the National Assembly (lower house), the ” National Assembly “.
The National Assembly (NV) comprises a total of 342 members, 272 of which are directly elected by the people for five years according to majority voting. All citizens aged 18 and over are eligible to vote. Sixty parliamentary seats are reserved for women and ten more for representatives of religious minorities. Since 2012, the Senate has 104 members who are elected by the parliaments of the four provinces and the tribal areas that are subject to federal administration.
A federal system
The state is federally constituted: It consists of the four provinces of Punjab, Sindh, the province that was recently renamed Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) (which was previously referred to as the “North West Frontier Province” by the British) and Balochistan, each with a governor and be governed by a state government under the “Chief Minister” (Prime Minister) and a state parliament (Provincial Assembly). There are also a number of special territories that are subject to federal administration, such as the Northern Areas (NAs), Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK), the Capital Territory Islamabad and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), known in German as the tribal areas along the Afghan border.
Local governance – a political issue
After the change of power from a military to a civil government in 2008, the new government reintroduced the previous colonial local administration. No local government elections have been held since then. The last local government elections were held in 2005 under Musharraf, who had introduced a controversial and highly complex system of local government.
Since the transition to civilian government in 2008 there has been controversial discussion about a new local government system for Pakistan, which regulates an efficient and fair distribution of resources as well as a political say and decision-making authority at the respective levels. Due to the conflicting political interests at various levels, it has not yet been possible to find an alternative solution that is acceptable to all. Democracy Reporting International sees this as a major hurdle in the democratization process in Pakistan.