“The real difference between democracy and oligarchy is poverty and wealth. Whenever men rule by reason of their wealth, whether they be few of many, that is an oligarchy, and where the poor rule, that is democracy” – Aristotle
It is now extensively accepted that Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) have an important role in national development. The developmental prospective of information and communication technologies have been broadly discussed in the scientific literature but we still lack conceptual precision on the role of ICTs for success and failure of national development process. In recent times ICT is exploit by citizens and civil society for networking and improve advocacy and mobilization, local and globally. Blogs, Facebook and online communities create new modes of social contact. The use of ICT has influenced social movements and has also had an effect on the social life and democratic freedoms in some societies. The existing explanation of freedom and democracy, by the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights, states that every individual have rights to free communication, religious and political participation, and to engage in economic activity. These rights are defined as political, economic, and religious freedoms. Many scholars connect political freedoms with constitutional democracy (the right of individuals to elect their governments).
ICT offer new tools for well-organized public contribution in the democratic process in the form of e-democracy, e-government, e-voting and the propagation of opinions, thoughts, ideas, and rallying social action about things that concern society. At present ICT can be used to improve the democratic process in the form of e-government in which citizens are able to effectively impact the decision-making process in a judicious approach within and between institutions. In government, ICT not only can increase accountability and transparency, and counter corruption through more proficient administration and increased flows of information but also strengthen good governance and improve interaction between government and citizens. E-democracy can be closely defined as “e-administration”, where ICT serves to modernize inter-governmental relations and flows of information with the view to improve government services, transactions, and interactions with citizens, businesses, and other arms of governments. E-democracy can facilitate better service to citizens by:
- Offering information via government web pages;
- Facilitating access to government services, and;
- Developing depersonalized services which reduce risk for corruption.
Generally, one can differentiate between three levels of ICT use to advance democratic processes at the national level:
- ICTs within government, with a view to improve efficiency in interactions and information flows between government departments and state organs.
- ICTs in the interface between government and citizens, with a view to improving interaction and feedback between government and citizens.
- ICTs for empowerment of citizens and civil society organizations.
Presently, Pakistan has a democratic system without democrats and it is hijacked by a small group of feudal lords, political elites, bureaucrats and organizations under foreign influence. Most of the time, democratic election only commit to reshuffling of the same old faces. Regardless of miserable performance of political parties, low level of people’s participation in party politics and lack of political culture, majority of the people still believe that political parties are the backbone of democracy. Pakistan where democracy has not deep root saturation, ICTs have provided the users an opportunity to be aware of their socio-political and human rights and they show strong inclination towards attending social and political meetings as a matter of right.
ICTs are foundations of socio-political information and development and can be a precious tool for enhancing people’s contribution in the development of policies, laws, strategies and other documents that shape their future. Since Pakistan is a developing country that faces many development challenges, plus extreme poverty, a low literacy rate, poor health facilities, and a weak socio-political situation, characterized by corruption and a lack of informed decision-making, ICT for progress is still at a nascent stage from a civil society standpoint. Even though the government is devoted to the development of ICT infrastructure in Pakistan but, the country is a graveyard of many failed and unsuccessful projects. Unfortunately, the government takes massive loans from the IMF, World Bank and others but there are practically no checks to measure the success of the projects they send the money on, or ways of helping to eradicate corruption in the implementation of projects. There are barely any monitoring and estimation procedure in country that is why according to The Transparency International annual report 2012 the corruption of Rs 12600 billion reported in different sectors of Pakistan during the last five democratic years.
The United Nations general assembly selected ‘9 December’ as International Anti-Corruption Day, to elevate awareness of corruption. On this International Anti-Corruption Day, let us promise to do our part by cracking down on corruption, shaming those who perform it and prompt a culture that values ethical behavior as democracy is based on two core principles: participation and accountability!