With Pakistan’s so-called “opposition” factions acting in a more and more treacherous manner on a daily basis, it becomes clear that some sort of systematic change in governance is required. Previous suggestions have been made to strengthen Pakistan’s current system which is near perfect in theory but which has been inexorably corrupted due to the proliferation of devious personalities and the tolerance of such pirates masquerading as legitimate politicians. There is however another option. Pakistan could become a “State of The Masses” – a direct democratic approach stressing localism combined with strong national leadership that was consecrated by Libya’s modern founder Muammar Gaddafi.
The State of The Masses known in Arabic as the Jamahiriya could indeed be a good fit for a Pakistan at a time when Imran Khan seeks to transform the country into Quaid-i-Azam’s envisaged Islamic welfare state.
Perhaps ironically to European, American and even many south Asian readers, it was The Great Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, formulated by revolutionary theorist Muammar Gaddafi, which was the closest modern day equivalent to Athenian democracy and yet it was bombed by the United States and its allies under the dishonest guise that it was insufficiently democratic.
The Great Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya was governed by a series of Basic People’s Councils. These were local assemblies comprised of all adult men and women who debated and decided a course of action on matters of local administration. Whereas the non-citizen slaves of Athens and women are prohibited from participating in government, in Libya all men and women were encouraged to participate and unlike in post-2011 Libya, slavery was non-existent in the country.
At a national level, the General People’s Committee, was made up of 600 members of various Basic People’s Councils as well as full time administerial staff such as general secretaries. Finally, an executive body called the General People’s Congress, oversaw the business of the General People’s Committee. The General People’s Congress was comprised of 2,700 members of Basic People’s Councils in addition to civil servants and administrators.
Libya between 1977 and 2011 was a direct democracy, where like in Athens, ordinary people were not just listened to when considering the formation of laws, but they also took a hands on role in developing, debating and implementing those laws, along with the aid of oversight bodies which themselves were largely comprised of local councillors from throughout the country. Throughout this period, the country’s modern founder Muammar Gaddafi refused to take a formal title but instead acted as a ceremonial president who oversaw the democratic system providing ad hock oversight while helping to shape the country’s foreign policy.
When taken as a whole, the Jamahiriya system could strengthen localism throughout Pakistan’s regions whilst simultaneously creating a strong and unified central government whose policies would be proposed by democratic bodies and ultimately implemented and amended by a strong Gaddafi like national figure.
As such, the problems arising from local grievances against Islamabad (both the real ones and the exponentially greater fictitious ones) would largely disappear as under a locally empowering direct democratic system, remote localities would have nobody to blame but themselves for the backwardness of their hinterland homes.
At the same time, whilst today, Islamabad is often an open forum of outrageous partisan accusations which themselves are far too often wrapped in the deviously opportunistic colours of sectarianism and separatism, if a national democratic council answerable only to a national leader had the final say in matters of national legislation, the country could at last achieve genuine political unity to match the territorial unity whose security has been achieved through tireless counter-terrorism efforts by the Army and ISI.
Thus, a Jamahiriya would see local direct democracy feeding ideas and representatives to national bodies which would all be guided under the watchful and eye of a national leader who in reality holds veto power over the decisions of the council’s that he is overseeing.
Such a system of governance could help to both purify the land of the pure and thus see Pakistan live up to not only its name but its potential. The Jamahiriya of Libya was once Africa’s most wealthy country and whilst Libya’s population was far smaller than Pakistan’s, there is no reason why a similar model could not be adapted to a large and important south Asian country.