PRESIDENTIAL FORM

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BY: Lt. Gen. (r) Tariq Khan

It is for this very reason that one concludes that a parliamentary system is dysfunctional in our country. Where politicians can be bought and sold like cattle and where people know no better, the parliamentary system will always be one that would be recognized for what it is – where conscience, belief, trust and honour are auctioned in the pretense of moral obligation and duty – where hypocrisy rules and insincerity governs.

My recent dabble into the structure of the political system, suggesting a change, disturbed many and caused pain to even more. Some said allow the vote its own glory, others said that the people’s mandate ought to be respected and yet some felt that a change was not needed. Well here we are today, with the sanctity of the vote lying in tatters and the mandate of the people blatantly betrayed, as some MNAs are now holed up in the Sindh House while others are in some distant farm house. There is also talk of women MNAs who were seated in Parliament on reserved seats and are nominees of a specific political party. They too are willing to be whisked away to another city for their protection and the right price. People are baying at the gates of Sindh House, threatening the deviant MNAs, others promise a physical confrontation in D Chowk on the 27th so as to influence the vote of confidence or no-confidence. Money has changed hands, and the national leadership, in their respective individual-selves have established their price. Their conscious on sale along with their dignity, honour and reputation – that is in the event they were furnished in even a minute drop of any such qualities. Now having established their price, it will always be a question of the highest bidder. Would it be someone from within the country or someone external source. Having looked around even those in a position to ‘buy’ an MNA are those who too play into the hands of external elements, as they are funded and resourced by them while they, these stalwarts shamelessly accept their largesse. So, in fact, whatever the case maybe, the nation is sold out by a few for a cost that they think is appropriate to turn on their own people. It reminds one of an interesting exchange between Churchill and a woman at a reception where he asks her if she would oblige him for the night for a Million Pounds and she replied, ‘Why Winston, I could do anything for a Million Pounds’. Churchill pressed on and asked if she were willing to do the same if he offered her Ten Pounds only, to which she retorted, ‘What kind of woman do you think I am?’ Churchill then said, ‘Ma’am we have already established what kind of woman you are, we are now just bargaining for the right price’. 

Pakistan is living in times where the region and the world is morphing into new orders and different alignments. CPEC is a global initiative by China which makes Pakistan central to a potential sea-change in the financial connectivity of the world, trade and commerce. It also makes Pakistan a target for those who do not wish to see China running away with the leadership role in the global economic system of things or those who do not wish to see Pakistan emerging as a new regional commercial center. Many methods and means are likely to be applied to destabilize Pakistan thereby thwarting or retarding any CPEC Plans. These could be through FATF, Indian sponsored violence in Baluchistan, support to TTP by hostile agencies to bring chaos to KP, creating sectarian issues in GB or even foment unrest in Azad Kashmir and most of all setting up an environment of political unrest and polarization. The medium or the agents through whom these events are being pursued are no other than our own sell outs, charlatans and purchased MNAs. If one looks at it comprehensively, this is selling out the country impacting on its capacity to make sovereign decisions in matters of Russia over Ukraine and China over the United States. Whereas, it is not necessary for Pakistan to be aligned with one or the other or with one at the cost of the other, yet the West feels that its oft repeated threat, ‘You are with us or against us’, must have a practical manifestation. Such a manifestation is only possible through a pliable regime that has sold its soul, found a new religion and a different God and is so willing to do anything at the bidding of the West. It is here where our so called MNAs, the political leadership stand out as shining examples of duplicity, treachery and deceit in this so called Islamic Republic of Pakistan governed by the Objectives Resolution of our Constitution – ‘To Allah lies the Universe’. They have proved that labels carry no weight and rhetoric has no substance; they are Muslims of another kind. 

It is for this very reason that one concludes that a parliamentary system is dysfunctional in our country. Where politicians can be bought and sold like cattle and where people know no better, the parliamentary system will always be one that would be recognized for what it is – where conscience, belief, trust and honour are auctioned in the pretense of moral obligation and duty – where hypocrisy rules and insincerity governs. The Government would always be blackmailed into complying with the wishes of these politicians who have chosen material benefits as their new religion. No administration would ever be autonomous enough to apply itself independently in the wake of such treachery. It is for this reason, that the Presidential system was recommended, thus allowing the Government to circumvent the chicanery, undue demands and deception of these totally exposed politicians. However, I still maintain that any form of the Government in the future must be a product of a referendum and a choice of the people and that it must be after suitable reforms have been concluded. These must include, judicial reforms, de-politicization of the police, amending or rewriting the constitution, accountability across the board, introduction of merit in every field/department, improving education at all levels, creating more provinces and separating religion from Politics. For the last recommendation, many argue that the State was made in the name of Islam. It was not. It was to escape Hindu dominated democracy and with events as seen in India today, the reasons should be clear to all. Not a single religious movement was undertaken for Pakistan and all religious parties were against the idea of Pakistan. These are facts which cannot be denied yet religion is exploited as a political tool by so many unscrupulous and devious politicians disguised as religious leaders. 

Under the circumstances, to save the country from further trial and tribulation, the following needs to be done immediately without wasting any more time: 

  1. Dissolution of the Parliament. 
  2. Set up a Caretaker Government/ NSC (A constitutional body) to bring reforms to the nation while undertaking routine administration of the country with special emphasis on finance, foreign policy, corporate structural development, internationally acceptable education, agriculture, and national security. 
  3. Allow reforms to be completed, which may take 5 to 7 years. 
  4. Use the time to educate the people on both forms of government i.e. Parliamentary System or Presidential. 
  5. Hold a referendum after the reforms are done, so that people may select the form of government they want. 
  6. Devise a system to elect a President with national level participation if people choose that form of government. 
  7. Hold free and fair elections to elect a President or a parliament according to the wishes of the people. 

The present scenario is a challenge but it is also an opportunity. The people are sick and tired of clichés and rhetoric spewed by political verbiage that never delivers anything in absolute terms other than promises. Politics of substance must be brought into motion and seen as development, progress and growth through defined and publicly visible KPIs. Pakistan has a chance to assert itself in the region. We have lost time, resource and treasure but it can still be regained if the correct course is set. Pakistan had a head start compared to other regional countries but slowly allowed itself to be left behind only because of its own leadership. It is now time to do the right thing, with the right intent for the right purpose. 

This article is written by Lt General (r) Tariq Khan, the man who fought the war against militancy in most critical time of Pakistan’s history. He led active military operations as Brigadier, IGFC and as Lt General of Pakistan Army.As Commander Central Command and Corps Commander Lt General (retd) Tariq Khan was part of important decision making relating to Pakistan’s security.