By Fakhruddin Akhunzada
One of the reasons for the democratic failure in our country is the unfit political system. The parliamentary system we are practicing is the ditto copy of that of the United Kingdom (UK) and does not suit our environment. This system is causing negative impact on democracy, and people welcome dictatorship to get rid of it. The system has given a free hand to corruption, diverted government and members of parliament’s attention to fight for their own interest rather than the national interest. The system is even creating hurdles for the winning political party to implement its manifesto.
The political system in our country compels the prime minister – the chief executive – to run the government as per the personal agenda of landlords and mullahs (peers, Sajjada nasheens etc). On the other hand, the landlords and mullahs reach parliament only because of their influence and keeping a large number of tenants working in the state-lands they have occupied illegally.
Majority of the members reach parliament in this way rather than their leadership influence and vision. They are not even committed to a political party they represent in the parliament. Their main job in the parliament is to safeguard their personal interests. During their tenure, they make money out of corruption and use it in the next election for rigging to win their seats. These members use the vote of no-confidence option as a blackmailing tool to impose their interest.
Our constitution has a number of articles which protect their interest. These articles have nothing to do with public goods.
The other dirty part of this system is purchasing members of parliament to save the office of prime minister or government. This horse trading is made by the public money and a government always has to save money through corruption for such deals.
Pakistan People’s Party made alliance with Q-League, its most disliked party, and Pakistan Tehreek Insaf has to make alliance with MQM, a terrorist and anti-national party according to their own statement, to fill the number gap in the parliament. All these are unnatural alliances and behind these, are just to save government or to save the office of chief executive.
Government has to make the alliance by compromising her own party manifesto. We have also experienced that an elected prime minister,Yousaf Raza Gillani had to run the government on direction of Asif Ali Zardari. An elected prime minister remained puppet during his four years of tenure and at last was thrown own because of Mr Zardari’s pas actions. He even could not dare to write a simple letter to Swiss government asking the latter to initiate an inquiry into what the Supreme Court of Pakistan was pressing for. This reveals how an elected prime minister, the chief executive, was influenced by others because of the system. The articles of constitution facilitate members more to impose their personal agenda rather than keeping check-and-balance.
The parliamentary system is struggling not only in Pakistan but in fact in all the third-world countries. Narendra Modi became prime minister exploiting religious sentiments and now again in the process of election misleading Indian voters by stupid kinds of actions like fake air-strikes inside Pakistan or igniting the controversy Baberi Masque. The system is facing same situation in Bangladesh, Thailand and in many other countries. In the United Kingdom the parliamentary system has evolved and travelled long into generations. It has practiced traditions and these traditions turned into constitution through century’s long process. How do the traditions of one part of globe, with different culture, values and history, fit into the other part?
Presidential system can be an option to replace the existing system. In this model, the president is elected directly by the primary voting and not by the members of the parliament. The chief executive is not hoped to be influenced or give in to parliament’s members. The tenure of his/ her office does not depend on happiness of members of parliament. He/she can run freely the government according to the manifesto of his party. He will not need to make alliances at the high cost and will not be made to compromise on the manifesto of his party and his own vision. The system is running successfully even in a war-hit country like Afghanistan.
The democratic practices in Afghanistan seem better than ours. At least there is no allegation of rigging in election in Afghanistan like us. Each party accepts the result and does not hold protest declaring the election unfair. Neither any president has been removed during their last three tenures as we see. But we need to be careful in copying again others system. The chief executive of the country must be powerful, and his tenure need not be depending on the happiness of other political parties and members of parliament. He/she need to be freed from the illegal demands of self-interested members of parliament.
This is the time we accept the drawback of the parliamentary system in the country and replace it with a system which fits and suits our context. We need to free the country from the influence of landlords and mullahs by making changes in our political system.