The way to gen­uine democ­racy

The Pak Banker - - FRONT PAGE - Atta Ur Rah­man

In my pre­vi­ous ar­ti­cles I have ad­vo­cated the need to switch to a pres­i­den­tial form of democ­racy. Quaid-e-Azam Mo­hammed Ali Jin­nah re­alised dur­ing his life­time that the par­lia­men­tary sys­tem of democ­racy was not suited for Pak­istan be­cause of the feu­dal stran­gle­hold on the sys­tem of gov­er­nance. On many oc­ca­sions, he warned about the evils of the feu­dal sys­tem and the need for Pak­istan to in­vest in ed­u­ca­tion in order to es­tab­lish a gen­uine democ­racy. He also se­ri­ously thought about the best sys­tem of democ­racy in Pak­istan and af­ter much de­lib­er­a­tion, con­cluded that it was the pres­i­den­tial form that would suit it best. Ac­cord­ing to a his­tor­i­cal ob­ser­va­tion (that only a few know about), the Quaid-e-Azam wrote a note, 'The Fu­ture Con­sti­tu­tion of Pak­istan' in which he stated that the par­lia­men­tary form of gov­ern­ment worked sat­is­fac­to­rily in Eng­land and nowhere else and that the pres­i­den­tial form of gov­ern­ment was more suited for Pak­istan.

This note is avail­able in File 42 of 1947 which was un­sealed by Gen­eral Zi­aul Haq, and a copy of it given to Shar­i­fud­din Pirzada. The orig­i­nal is avail­able in the Jin­nah Pa­pers in Islamabad. The note has been re­pro­duced in the book ti­tled ' The Jin­nah An­thol­ogy' pub­lished by Ox­ford Univer­sity Press. In a chap­ter ti­tled 'Con­sti­tu­tional set-up of Pak­istan as vi­su­alised by Quaid-e-Azam Mo­hammed Ali Jin­nah', Shar­i­fud­din Pirzada states: "The note was jot­ted down by Jin­nah on or about July 16, 1947. The note clearly states that in the fu­ture con­sti­tu­tion of Pak­istan, re­gard­ing the form of gov­ern­ment, there would be a pres­i­den­tial form of gov­ern­ment. It was not spec­i­fied which pres­i­den­tial form. How­ever, in the man­ner in which the gov­ern­ment func­tioned from Au­gust 15, 1947 to Septem­ber 11, 1948, it seems it was more on the pat­tern of the French sys­tem." Th­ese views of Mo­hammed Ali Jin­nah have been ig­nored by politi­cians and are known to only a few oth­ers.

I must clar­ify here that I do not ad­vo­cate dic­ta­tor­ship, but a gen­uine democ­racy in which the pres­i­dent is elected by the gen­eral free vote, as is the prac­tice in many other democ­ra­cies. One sig­nif­i­cant ad­van­tage of a pres­i­den­tial sys­tem of democ­racy is that the elected pres­i­dent can se­lect the coun­try's most em­i­nent ex­perts of var­i­ous dis­ci­plines such as law, agricul- ture, sci­ence, in­for­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy etc, and ap­point them as fed­eral min­is­ters. Th­ese peo­ple would not oth­er­wise be in­ter­ested in try­ing to be­come min­is­ters through the process of elec­tion. They are top pro­fes­sion­als con­tribut­ing in their re­spec­tive fields, and there­fore, need to be per­suaded by the pres­i­dent to join the gov­ern­ment and con­trib­ute to the process of na­tion build­ing - though this would ad­versely af­fect their pro­fes­sional ca­reers.

The in­volve­ment of top ex­perts in the gov­ern­ment as min­is­ters is essen­tial for progress, for in this highly com­pet­i­tive world only those coun­tries will progress which es­tab­lish strong knowl­edge economies. It is only through this mech­a­nism that we can de­velop the abil­ity to man­u­fac­ture and ex­port medium and high value-added goods. Each min­istry must be led by a per­son who spe­cialises in the port­fo­lio handed over to them, and can en­sure that high­est pri­or­ity is given to Ed­u­ca­tion, Sci­ence, Tech­nol­ogy and In­no­va­tion (ESTI). This can only hap­pen if schol­ars of in­ter­na­tional em­i­nence are 'se­lected' and not elected by the pres­i­dent. This is pos­si­ble only in a pres­i­den­tial form of gov­ern­ment where the elected pres­i­dent can se­lect his team of cab­i­net min­is­ters, not from par­lia­ment but from any­where. This is the prac­tice fol­lowed in France, Amer­ica and in many other coun­tries.

Another ad­van­tage of a pres­i­den­tial sys­tem of democ­racy is that it en­sures a much bet­ter sep­a­ra­tion of pow­ers be­tween the leg­isla­tive (par­lia­ment), the ex­ec­u­tive (gov­ern­ment de­part­ments) and the ju­di­ciary. This is crit­i­cally im­por­tant for the func­tion­ing of a gen­uine democ­racy. In the present par­lia­men­tary form of gov­ern­ment, the prime min­is­ter leads the po­lit­i­cal party in par­lia­ment, which can for­mu­late laws suit­able for the po­lit­i­cal in­ter­ests of that party ir­re­spec­tive of how fair or ra­tio­nal they may be. The prime min­is­ter also ap­points the heads of or­gan­i­sa­tions such as NAB, FIA, SECP and State Bank among oth­ers, which re­sult in a se­ri­ous over­lap of func­tions be­tween the leg­isla­tive and the ex­ec­u­tive

Pak­istan to­day is at a cross­roads. In the last 71 years, the coun­try wit­nessed a divi­sion ow­ing to the se­nior politi­cians' lust for power, who re­fused to hand over the power to Sheikh Mu­jibur-Rah­man af­ter his party won the na­tional elec­tions held on De­cem­ber 7, 1970. There was con­sid­er­able frus­tra­tion in East Pak­istan, as the peo­ple there felt that they were not get­ting their due share in the na­tional wealth and had no con­trol over the gov­er­nance. The gov­ern­ment was be­ing con­trolled by those elected from the West Pak­istan.

The Awami League con­tested the elec­tions on the Six-Point Pro­gramme which en­vis­aged that both the wings of Pak­istan would be united in the form of a loose fed­er­a­tion. The Awami League won a clear ma­jor­ity in East Pak­istan, win­ning 160 out of a to­tal of 300 seats in the Na­tional Assem­bly. In East Ben­gal, the Awami League won 160 out of 162 seats, while in West Pak­istan, the Pak­istan Peo­ples Party led by Zul­fikar Ali Bhutto se­cured the ma­jor­ity of seats. Dif­fer­ences arose be­tween the gov­ern­ment and the Awami League on the six­points. The po­lit­i­cal dead­lock led to a mil­i­tary op­er­a­tion be­ing launched and fol­low­ing In­dia's in­ter­ven­tion, Bangladesh came into ex­is­tence on De­cem­ber 17, 1971. Had a pres­i­den­tial sys­tem ex­isted then, Sheikh Mu­jib would have be­come the pres­i­dent and the coun­try would have sur­vived and flour­ished as a united Pak­istan.

Such a change to the pres­i­den­tial sys­tem can only be achieved through the in­stal­la­tion of an in­terim gov­ern­ment that car­ries out the much needed con­sti­tu­tional and elec­toral re­forms. That is the way for­ward.

How­ever, in the man­ner in

which the gov­ern­ment func­tioned from Au­gust 15, 1947 to Septem­ber 11, 1948, it

seems it was more on the pat­tern of the French sys­tem." Th­ese views of Mo­hammed Ali Jin­nah have been ig­nored by politi­cians and are known to

only a few oth­ers.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Pakistan

© PressReader. All rights reserved.