The year 1688 was a significant one in England’s history. James II (1685-1688) was the King of England, Ireland and Scotland in that year. Like all monarchs of that time, he enjoyed absolute control on the resources of the country. King and his henchmen enjoyed monopolistic rights on several profitable businesses. This resulted in the economic exploitation of the common man. James II was not the first King in English history to exploit his people. His predecessors had also been doing the same. But the country had reached a tipping point and a civil war began.
This was not the first civil war in the English history. In the past there had been several movements against such exploitation, followed by many civil wars. But civil war of 1688 was different. This time, King’s military refused to be the part of his oppression and left the King and parliament played an active role. William of Orange, who was son-in-law of James II, came to England with his wife Mary from Holland and Mary was ascended to the throne. However, at the time of her coronation, a Declaration was issued through which several powers of the King/Queen were transferred to the Parliament. The success of the civil war and the consequent issuance of the Declaration is known in the history as Glorious Revolution.
As a result of the Glorious Revolution of 1688, businessmen and industrialists were given representation in the Parliament; laws were made to support the businesses; business opportunities were taken out of the exclusive domain of the elite and extended to the common man; loans became accessible to everyone who could provide a reasonable collateral; and courts were placed under the Parliament rather than the King.
It was due to the above reforms that the Chief Justice Holt issued a decree against the King abolishing his monopoly on business rights. This was the beginning of rule of law made by a parliament rather than the proclamations of a King. Historians agree that it was due to the Glorious Revolution that England entered the era of Industrial Revolution earlier than rest of the world.
The Glorious Revolution did not create an ideal parliament nor did it end all exploitations in the society. Nevertheless, it was the start of a journey towards the supremacy of parliament, end of the rule of despotic monarchs and beginning of an era of rule of law. If our politicians give examples of British parliamentary norms and prefer to settle their scores in the British courts rather than in Pakistani courts, they actually vindicate the Glorious Revolution.
Let us now briefly examine the situation in Pakistan. We have parliamentary democracy in Pakistan but parliament has no strength to make laws of its choosing. Election to the parliament is so expensive that many segments of the society like labour and working class professionals can hardly think of participating in the election process. Political parties prefer to give tickets to persons who are in a position to finance their election campaign. As a result, persons elected frequently promulgate the laws to protect their interests rather than the interests of common people of Pakistan. Large majority of the people elected from rural areas are feudal aristocrats. To protect their interests, they join hands with civil and military bureaucracy, big industrialists and land mafias.
The judiciary is often accused of protecting interests of elites rather than the down trodden. Accusations of corruption, delay in deliverance of justice and siding with the powerful have eroded the credibility of our judicial system. Thus, rule of law is a mirage rather than a reality in the country. Property rights of a common man and business opportunities are scarce. It is the state and state’s institutions that have an illegitimate control over the businesses that are being financed from public money and are often wasteful.
All this sorry state of affairs is not only discouraging the private sector businesses but often put them in a situation of unfair competition. It has also led to a situation in which Pakistani businessmen prefer to invest outside Pakistan and educated people prefer to live abroad.
However, it will be over simplistic to blame the present-day parliaments for the predicament of the country. One should remember that the Glorious Revolution was preceded by Reformation through which people were taken out of the shackles of dogmatic religion and were allowed to think and speak freely. Concepts of security state and dogmatic religion are two sacred cows that have been fed as opium to the people of Pakistan. Let there be debates on these issues and reason should be allowed to prevail rather than mobs.
Very enlightening. The last paragraph is thought provoking in particular.
Very rightly described by the writer, the situation we are in. The other two contributing factors are absence of rule of law and declining education standard. Look around and one will find no country or economy has developed in the absence of these two.
Truly enlightening and informative while also thought provoking
Will the ruling establishment ever support collective wisdome of nation to work? A shift from miltery monarchy to parliamentary monarchy seems impossible unless some “Protestants” dare to walk apart from “catholic” establishment.