Pakistan constitutionally is a democratic parliamentary republic and its political system is based on an elected form of governance. However, the debate over what kind of governance system is best suited for Pakistan, is as old as the constitution itself. Every now and then, this issues comes back in media, social media and power corridors whether parliamentary form of governance is better or the presidential one. After back to back inability of democratic governments to perform, the debate even goes off the rail, and unprecedented options of national or technocrat government in Pakistan comes under speculations, apparently aimed to bring back country on the right path.
The reason this debate has been doing the rounds, that in Pakistan, unfortunately we have never had the true democratic government, despite being elected through an electoral process. It might be because democratic mindset has never flourished in our culture, values and traditions.
I have observed many cases, within the family and out of the family, where the eldest son or only son assumes the power of being head of the family on the passing away of the father. Without regard to right of his siblings to a share in the father’s property, they take control of the father’s property as if they are the only shareholder. When a sister asks for her share, she is told it is not right to ask the brother for her share. Over fourteen hundred years ago Islam taught us that a son has two shares and a daughter has one share in the property. Even 73 years after the founding of Pakistan as an Islamic State, people have to fight long drawn court cases to decide on who should get what.
Since we have tried all sorts of leaders, I believe that now is the time to have a government run by technocrats.
Similarly Pakistan has had the misfortune of being ruled by personalities, both civil and military, who acted like the elder brother in the example above. Here I would like to quote two examples. The 1970 elections was considered to be Pakistan’s only truly free elections. In this election Sheikh Mujib Ur Rehman’s party the Awami League won 153 seats (all from East Pakistan), Zulfiqar Bhutto’s PPP won 81 seats (all from West Pakistan) and while other parties won small number of seats. If Bhutto was a true democrat he would have readily agreed to Sheikh Mujib becoming the next Prime Minister of Pakistan. Since he thought he knew best, the East Pakistanis demonstrated against the not holding of the National Assembly session in which Sheikh Mujib would have become the PM. A civil war ensued in East Pakistan, which India used to its advantage to break-up the country. A lesson we should have learnt was to listen to peoples’ grievances. We have not. The best example is the largest city of Pakistan, Karachi. It is being run by politicians and not technocrats.
Another example is of FATA. Up till a few years ago the people of FATA didn’t have the same rights as the rest of Pakistan. If the Political Agent thought that a certain person was guilty of a crime, the Political Agent had the powers to order that person’s house to be knocked down. The citizen of FATA had no right to appeal to the judiciary. One of the few persons to not agree to the merger of FATA with KPK was another so called democrat Fazal–ur-Rehman. His reason for not agreeing was that his party would lose seats KPK.
Since we have tried all sorts of leaders, I believe that now is the time to have a government run by technocrats. To straighten out the mess that is Karachi, to change out dated laws, to reform the police, to upgrade our education system where we can compete with the world, to modernize our agriculture and industries, etc. This technocrat government would be given 10 years to fix all those things broken in this country.
Syed Hussein El-Edroos
The Author is a freelance writer and his contributions are regularly appearing in major national newspapers as well as other social media platforms.