The 17th anniversary of the historic Charter of Democracy, signed by former Prime Minister in exile Nawaz Sharif and Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto Shaheed in 2006, is being observed today.
The document envisioned establishment of a new political system of harmony and reconciliation in Pakistan with the aim to ensure continuity of a strong democratic system.
Setting aside differences of the past, the two mainstream parties, the PML-N and the PPP had adopted the thirty-six point COD, declaring that they would respect electoral mandate of representative governments and that they shall not undermine each other through extra constitutional ways.
Under the Charter, they pledged that no party shall solicit the support of military to come into power or to dislodge a democratic government.
The significant features of the CoD were constitutional amendments, code of conduct, free and fair elections and civil-military relations. It is a detailed document, covering most aspects which had been hampering the growth of democracy in Pakistan.
Later, some other parties of the Alliance for the Restoration of Democracy, including Jamiat Ulema-e-Pakistan, Jamhoori Watan Party, Pakistan Democratic Party, Jamiat Ahle Hadith and Pakistan Christian Party signed the CoD document.
Ever since its adoption, the polity of Pakistan has witnessed some positive outcomes such as completion of terms by the last two Assemblies.
Following the elections of 2008, the PPP formed government in the center and completed its term in 2013. Similarly, the PML-N completed its five-year tenure from 2013 to 2018.
The historic18th Amendment is also an outcome of the COD under which infringements on the constitution of Pakistan were reversed.
Greater autonomy was given to the provinces with the devolution of many subjects and abolishment of the concurrent list.
Under the 18th amendment also, the powers of the President were shifted to the parliament and the NWFP was given the nomenclature of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.