February 12th, 2022
By Rehan Piracha
Pakistan was placed at the 104th spot among 167 states on the global Democracy Index 2021, compiled by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU).
However, Pakistan retained its place among the eight least democratic countries among the 28 nations in Asia as the COVID pandemic negatively impacted democracy and freedom around the world for a second successive year, the EIU index stated.
According to EIU Index 2021, the pandemic has resulted in an unprecedented withdrawal of civil liberties among developed democracies and authoritarian regimes alike, through the imposition of lockdowns and restrictions on traveling and, increasingly, the introduction of “green passes” requiring proof of vaccination against covid-19 for participation in public life.
Pakistan’s score stagnant
Classified as a ‘hybrid regime’, Pakistan’s score of 4.31 remained unchanged from the previous year but it moved up a slot to 104 on the democracy index ranking this year. A country’s rank on the Democracy Index is based on points scored on five categories and indicators.
Pakistan received a score of 5.67 in the category of electoral process and pluralism; 5.36 on the functioning of government; 3.33 on political participation; 2.50 on political culture; and 4.71 on civil liberties.
Interestingly, Pakistan’s score on the index has been witnessing a slight decline since 2013 when it registered its highest score of 4.64 with the first civilian handover of power in the country. The score dipped to 4.17 in 2018, the year of formation of the Pakistan Tehrik Insaf government at the center. The score slightly improved to 4.25 in 2019 and 4.31 in 2020 that marking the advent of the global pandemic.
Among other South Asian states, both India and Sri Lanka classified as ‘flawed democracies’ were ranked at 46th and 67th respectively on the index. Hybrid regimes Bangladesh and Bhutan were placed at 75th and 81st spot on the index.
The EIU Index 2021 noted with concern the reversal of progress towards democracy in the Asia region which saw two stunning country downgrades-Afghanistan and Myanmar- at the other end of the rankings.
The overall regional average score fell from 5.62 in 2020 to 5.46, with two countries accounting for much of the decline. Afghanistan’s total score fell from an already very low 2.85 in 2020 to 0.32 in 2021 and the country fell 28 places to the bottom of the rankings, displacing North Korea. It was joined at the bottom by Myanmar, whose score also declined precipitously from 3.04 in 2020 to 1.02, resulting in a fall of 31 places down the rankings from 135th to 166th place.
Other states included in the least democratic places in Asia were: Afghanistan at the first place (as the last place first), Myanmar in the second place, North Korea third, Laos fourth, China fifth, Cambodia sixth, Vietnam seventh, Pakistan, eighth, Nepal ninth and Hong Kong stood at the 10th place.
According to the report, the percentage of the world’s population living under some sort of democracy tumbled last year to 45.7 percent from 49.4pc a year earlier. Topping the list were Norway, New Zealand, and Finland, while the UK ranked 18th. The US, which was given a flawed democracy classification, fell one spot to number 26.
Regionally, Latin America saw the biggest decline in scores, with seven countries falling down the rankings between 10 and 20 places, while Asia gained three “full democracies” — Japan, South Korea and Taiwan.
The world’s top 10 most democratic places were: Norway, New Zealand, Finland, Sweden, Iceland, Denmark, Ireland, Taiwan, Australia and Switzerland.