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Likelihood of a Presidential System

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Likelihood of a

Presidential System

That is the basic concept behind the “Utopian State —” a state where everyone lives in merry harmony, where there is depth in understanding between the ruling and the ruled, any bad blood that infects the clear and tranquil waters of peace is instantly eradicated through diplomatic cooperation and sheer goodwill. It is a concept that is indeed too good to be true, but not one that cannot be achieved.
Understanding how the various governmental systems work is an intricate science, and to be able to decipher which form of leadership best suits a state, one should be aware of the internal affairs and domestic politics of that state. Just because the parliamentary system of governance is world-renowned for its “separation of powers between the head of the government and head of the state,” it cannot be inferred, in any way, that it may be beneficial for a state like Pakistan. While it may prove hugely successful in regions like the UK, it is not so in Third-World countries like Pakistan, or India.

This article may serve to elucidate some of the reasons why the democratic system in our part of the world is always falling short of high expectations that are associated with it every time the elections take place, and a new government is formed.

The presidential system of government has been a complete stranger to our political system. One may argue that it is high time one felt sick of the “known devil” and gave the “unknown devil” a chance.
But, before adoption, this system of governance needs to be deeply worked upon and its pros and cons should be dissected by the well-informed think tanks of our society, to make it suitable enough to match all administrative and political requirements that have been lying hitherto unanswered. It should not be and must not be adopted in toto, just as it happened in the case of an imported system of governance from England that was wholeheartedly welcomed without any improvisation beforehand. It goes without saying after years of failed experiments that the British system should have met necessary amendments, just as English tea, coffee or Chinese cuisine were moulded to suit the taste buds, weather conditions and temperaments here. If tea is a daily thing here, then it better be a Pakistani cup of tea. And we know that.

Coming back to history, for the past 75 years, we have either witnessed dictatorial regimes or so-called democratic governments, based on a multi-party system. Sadly, these multiple parties that underwent a mushrooming growth over a period of years failed to update their agendas or plans of action which they might have introduced as heir party manifestos. Even the names of political parties do not reflect their ideologies, if at all there are any, and fail miserably short of an impressive intro. England’s example one may pick, perhaps, to highlight this serious shortfall in our party-based democratic system. Over there, the name-tag, as the “Conservative, Liberal or Labour Party,” says it all in one go. Over here, the slogan is a hurling insult and the manifesto is a hollow trumpeting of the fake word.

A deeper probe into a party’s nomenclature, raises the question: is Pakistan Peoples Party not a Muslim kind of league in nature? Or, to put it otherwise: is the Muslim League not representing all the People of Pakistan? So how do these two giants establish their essential points of differences, so far as their names are concerned? Or do they all blindly believe in Shakespeare’s Juliet, when she says, “What’s in a name?”

The term Muslim League worked wonders when the competitive political circumstances in India involved a multi-ethnic society. There, the title was relevant enough, but now, do we not feel the necessity to update these age-old titles for the sake of their relevance today? A mere adding of “Noon Group,” or “Shaheed Bhutto Group” appears more like further deterioration of an already stale state of affairs. This kind of deteriorating terminology can hardly provide directions to a populace that is either too illiterate and uninformed or extremely brand-name conscious. The term “Pakistan Tehreek-e-lnsaaf,” though not absolutely vague like its competitors, is also not so handsome enough to invite one’s thumb for it. Hence proven, ours is a one-man show which is personality-based and not ideology-oriented. That personality may either be a Bhutto or a Sharif or a Khan.

Ours is a country whose population enjoys multiple concerns. Our people have religious, provincial, liberal and linguistic concerns, quite often all at the same time. Hence, the vote is viewed as an asset that is supposed to meet all these demands. Would it not have been better, had we cared to pay attention to the views of a secular Jinnah who tried to disentangle these personal affiliations from the panorama of the government?

The crux of the matter all comes down to the population. The more the people of the state have a basic understanding about what they need, how certain problems are to be tackled, and who will come up to their expectations regarding the solutions to their troubles, the more chances there are of gaining efficient results when it comes to electing a proactive government, one that is not deaf or blind to the people’s pleas and cries for respecting human rights, for eradicating corruption, for building more career opportunities to combat poverty, for giving access to clean drinking water. Therefore, let the administration administer the affairs of the state and let those affairs be only those that concern us all, irrespective of small-scale areas of interest.

Around 41% of the population of Pakistan is illiterate, which, along with fuelling other concerns like unemployment, poverty and overpopulation, also plays a key role in the problematic governance that Pakistan has had to face many times. The “rule of the people” is merely a bait to entrap as many as possible in the web of false hopes, deceit and treachery when the anxiously awaited voting period begins.
A country that is hailed as “Mamlikat-e-Khudadaad-e-Pakistan” should not need a hardcore Islamic political party vying for the top seat in the assembly. These Islamic scholars are needed elsewhere. They serve better if they groom the masses for a better value system. Plato proposed in his Dialogues the idea that a country needs to be run by a set of philosophers only to be contradicted by his pupils later, who placed the worthy think-tanks on the back seats, right behind the administration, not as opponents but as strengthening reinforcements that lead from behind.

In England, one must remember that people do have Protestant or Roman Catholic mindsets, but they have long done away with confusing religion with the affairs of the State. That is why their vote takes a light-hearted flight. It is not as divided and messy as it is here. If we want a British parliamentary system of government to succeed, we will have to rise above commonplace differences that divide us all into pieces. There needs to be a vision to inspire the act of vote. The symmetry of an undivided nation is all we need today. The same was taught years ago, right on the onset by Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah.

All in all, the Presidential system should be preferred since the promise of wide-ranging representation in the Assembly and Senate will curb problems arising from provincial domination, directing funds towards other parts of the country regardless of their political status, and eventually overcoming feuds between provinces and regions. The Parliamentary system may seem to be the better approach, but in a place where corruption is on the rise, and the people lack political consciousness about their and their country’s needs, power needs to be concentrated in the hands of a single authority which can maneuver and lead the country onto a path of economic and social development, with a team of experts in all fields making up the legislature. A leader is independent of the opinions of the members of a political party, and their objections and disapproval. Only then can the country flourish internationally and domestically.

In a presidential state, if the elected candidate is fit for office, he will take great care in meticulously electing the members of the Senate and the National Assembly, ultimately making sure that all bills and laws that will come to pass will be in the overall benefit of the country. The president has the power to approve or reject any bill depending on its validity and reasoning, as well as its fruitfulness regarding the national interest of the state. The presidential system hands all the reigns to the president, and they are responsible for all the decision-making regarding the election of the legislature, forming of the houses, etc. It may be so that the parliamentary system allows the Prime Minister to decide and write laws alongside the legislature, however, there is also to be considered the fact that majority of the National Assembly comprises members from whichever province the Prime Minister is elected, hence, simultaneously not giving enough representation to all provinces of the state and eventually giving rise to problematic provincial autonomy, which further results in intra-state disputes amongst provinces on the basis of little recognition. One already hears whispers here and there that if lmran Khan fails as Prime Minister, he may very well stand a chance as the President of the country.

The writer can be contacted at: sonia.bokhari@gmail.com

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