Pakistan is an authoritarian regime: Democracy Index 2023. Only Asian country in the category

A report from the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) demoted Pakistan 11 places in the global ranking on the state of democracy and downgraded it from a “hybrid regime” to an “authoritarian regime”.

According to the EIU report, democratic standards across the world fell in 2023 amid the spread of wars, authoritarian crackdowns and declining levels of trust in mainstream political parties.

Titled Age of Conflict, the study provides a snapshot of the state of democracy in 165 independent states and two territories, and basing its scores on a range of indicators, each country is classified as one of four types of regime: full democracy, flawed democracy, hybrid regime or authoritarian regime.

A case in point is Pakistan, which has suffered the biggest regression in the Asian region — its score falling to 3.25, triggering a downgrade from ‘hybrid regime’ to ‘authoritarian regime’ and a decline of 11 places in the global ranking. It is worth noting that more than half of the 28 countries in the region recorded a decline in their scores (15), and only eight improved their scores.

Pakistan was among six states on the globe to have their classification changed — the others being Greece (which moved up to ‘full democracy’), Papua New Guinea and Paraguay (which improved from ‘hybrid regimes’ to become ‘flawed democracies’) and Angola (which was upgraded from its authoritarian classification to ‘hybrid regime’) — and the only Asian country to be downgraded so significantly.

While noting the fact that the country has gone to the polls, the EIU pointed out that: “Unsurprisingly, elections in Bangladesh, Pakistan and Russia — where opposition forces are subject to state repression — will not bring regime change or more democracy.”

One of the reasons for this decline can be found in the indicators ‘electoral process and pluralism’ and ‘functioning of government’, where the EIU notes that the “outsized political influence of the military… means that elections are far from being free, fair or competitive”.

Pakistan’s score on the democracy index remained a little over 4 since 2008. It was for the first in 2023 that the country’s score tumbled to 3.25 during the coalition government primarily comprising of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam Fazl (JUI-F).

Interestingly, Pakistan’s 2023 score on the democracy index is even worse than 2006 (3.92) when military ruler Gen (retd) Pervez Musharraf was at the helm of the affairs.

Speaking to local media, Pakistan Institute of Legislative Development and Transparency (Pildat) Ahmed Bilal Mehboob termed Pakistan’s downgrading as “disappointing”.

Pakistan downgraded to authoritarian regime on Democracy Index

“This is a very disappointing development as Pakistan has scored the lowest since 2017 and our category has also been downgraded from a hybrid regime’ to an authoritarian regime,” he added.

He also urged all stakeholders to “undertake serious soul searching at this state of affairs”.

According to the EIU report, only 7.8 percent of the global population reside in a “full democracy”, and substantially more than one-third live under authoritarian rule.

The top three places in the index are occupied by Norway, New Zealand and Iceland, while the final three countries are North Korea, Myanmar and Afghanistan.

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