A recent visit to the Washington State capitol buildings in Olympia inspired Haris Chaudhry to reflect on the true nature of democracy and the differences between the systems in his country and the United States. Haris is a Northwest Community College Initiative (NWCCI) student from Pakistan who is studying hospitality and tourism at Whatcom Community College. And if you can’t get enough Haris, check out his post from earlier this year about what he has learned about being more environmentally conscious.
Last week we visited the Washington State Capitol in Olympia. I thought it would be a boring trip but it turned to be very interesting and informative. Our tour guide Ms. Peggy O’ Keefe was a pleasant lady who oriented us about the different sections of the capitol. The architecture of the capitol building is inspired from ancient Greeks who were the first people to develop the idea of democracy. We were briefed about the three branches of government: legislative, executive, and judicial. We visited the Senate, House of Representatives and the Supreme Court.
There were so many people and particularly young kids in the building; the tour is given to hundreds of students daily. A tour of a government building? I can’t even think of it in my country. I talked to fellow students and they were as amazed as I was because not every country allows its citizens to tour government establishments. Another surprising fact was that in 5th grade, students are provided with the basics of government. I believe this helps them in better understanding of the affairs and the importance of their votes in future. This is what we need in Pakistan because the people do not recognize the value of their ballot and end up giving votes based on the caste system, thus choosing an incompetent person to lead, which is the biggest constraint in the development of the country.
After knowing how democracy works, I realize we Pakistanis are being fooled. What kind of democracy prevents you from approaching a member that you have elected, to represent you in the parliament? Once they’ve paved their way to the government, the parliamentarians act like free-souls, unaccountable to citizens. If I had authority, I would make it mandatory for every new member of the parliament of my country to go visit, perceive and implement the ways governments are run here in the U.S. I truly wish these crystal-clear governing systems were endorsed and lead to a prosperous and strong Pakistan!
I’m really very impressed by the open, free and fair government system prevailing in the U.S. The fact that the citizens realize the significance of their voting power and on the other hand, representatives feel themselves answerable to the people, leads to making and implementing unbiased and productive laws. I can say that I have personally experienced what ‘government of the people, by the people, for the people’ really means. The United States of America is undoubtedly a true democratic country.
The NWCCI program is part of the Community College Initiative, an exchange program sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. The opinions expressed in this blog by writers and those providing comments are theirs alone, and do not reflect the opinions of the Northwest Community College Initiative program, Edmonds Community College, Whatcom Community College, Pierce College, the United States Department of State or any employee thereof. NWCCI and Edmonds Community College are not responsible for the accuracy of the information supplied by student bloggers.