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South Asia

Pakistan: Which way to go?



A few days ago, a trend dominated on twitter was “we want the presidential system.” Some months ago, the same debate regarding the implementation of the presidential system circulated when Imran Khan raised voice against the parliamentary system. He was critical of the parliamentary system since he felt impediment while imposing his sole decisions in the country. Now when ailing Ex. PM Nawaz Sharif made his journey to London; people have begun to curse the parliamentary system. In this trend, the parliamentary system in place was called out the remnant of the British legacy.

Let’s start the discussion whether Pakistan should have presidential democracy or parliamentarian democracy. It is also important to mention that the concerned discussion will reflect the ideal features of parliamentary or presidential democracy. As in Pakistan, right now, the parliamentary system exits in its depraved form, so in the case of favoring the parliamentary system, this would not entail our existing parliamentary system. It is not in that practice in which it should exist.

Before plunging into details which system suits Pakistan, it is necessary to judge the nature and trends of its inhabitants. A system works vigorously when it has compatibility with its characters. Pakistan is a land of varying cultures and people. Its inhabitants have a great appetite to symbolize their culture and caste. The majority of the people couple their caste as their surname to make their identity special. Thus, they aspire to vote and elect that representative who resembles at least their caste or language. Apart from that, the people are inclined to discuss politics, and every person wants to share its thoughts on political scenario. They want their inclusion by pitching feedback to their representatives. Even one will see that a vendor would have its ideology regarding politics and would wish that its ideology be imposed on the state. Thus, in the presidential system, the common man’s judgment becomes inaccessible to the upper authorities and people like the sub-continentals, it is optimum that one should vote for its local representative. It is problematic for 220 million people to elect one person with such a difference in mindset and approach. Hence, it is indispensable that each community should have one representative to which people can vote according to their will. And these representative choose one head of state.

Pakistan has the scenario of uneven development in its four provinces and these four provinces also share the same story. A person from less developed area has analtered mindset than that of those in developed area. When a representative elects from the less developed area on the resolve of people, he at least raises voice for its people on the floor of parliament. Whereas, a president hailing from one sect would be incapable to comprehend the sufferings of many sections of the nation. Therefore, it is requisite that representatives from each section should be elected to spearhead their people in parliament.

In the presidential system, the president shapes its cabinet. So, the representative chosen from the head is far cry from that chosen by masses. Since that representative would have the idea that he is more answerable to the president than its people. In this case, he wouldn’t pay much heed to the people’s issues. Amidst this situation, the very person would try to mitigate the sufferings of its community who would be elected on the will of the people of its area. In this case, the parliamentary system suits Pakistan.

People of the Sub-continent have quest for power, as they seek something under their sound control and repulse the share of another person in their power. In the presidential system, the power remains almost central. Only the president of the state enjoys executive powers, thus in the presidential system, the concept of the devolution of power is negated. Consequently, power is abused by the head of the state. Pakistan has endured the chapters of martial law thrice, which is the testimony to the fact that in Pakistan there has been the tendency to enjoy unparalleled power. Therefore, in the context of sub-continentals, this idea could be lethal. State functions smoothly when there is a devolution of power, and each authority is answerable to its upper. In this regard, parliamentary democracy is the best way to run countries like Pakistan and India. Involvement of Pakistan in the cold war during the Zia regime; the participation of Pakistan in the global war on terror and Laal Masjid operation under the Musharraf regime are the evident steps that were taken by the sole rationale of the presidents. In these steps, no single person was taken into confidence since the country was under the rule of a mere one person. In 2007, judges were sacked to house-arrest, electronic and press media were censored because the country was functioning under the Musharraf regime. This is perfect substantiation that how our country would function under one-man rule.

Pakistan and India are the third world countries. These states necessitate much progress to join the row of the progressed states. To scale these countries to the height of progress, the problems of these states must be discussed under one roof. The parliamentary system provides the representatives to discuss and debate the problems of the masses. When problems are discussed, debated, and argued, the representatives discern the courses of sacrifice, diplomacy, and harmony. And this platform is provided only by a parliamentary system. In the presidential democracy, when the head of state enjoys executive powers, most of the time, he doesn’t bother to discuss the matters with its cabinet.

The parliamentary system has the prospect of making an alliance system and serving its interests. Pakistan is the country with multiple political parties, where each party has its political interests and agendas. Along with major political parties, there are several small parties with many renowned independent representatives that help in making the government. For instance, the MQM, GDA, PML-Q allied with PTI to form the latter’s government. These political parties have their vote’s stores and interests. And if there were the presidential system, these parties would have been suppressed and resultantly there would lethal consequences. The presidential system functions efficiently when a few parties are contesting for power saddle. In Pakistan and India, there are various parties, and these can function under a parliamentary system.

In Pakistan, the current parliamentary system has been dysfunctional because of the absence of political stability. The need for the hour is to amend and rectify the current parliamentary system, rather than to switch to the presidential system. People who ratify the idea of the presidential system often cite the example of the US, Turkey, and Russia, but must bear in their minds that Pakistan is far different from these countries and cannot afford to have a presidential system. The US has a very different story from Pakistan; its literacy rate, demography, and trends are far cry from that of Pakistan. In the US, only three to four political parties contest for power and there is no such diversity in demography like Pakistan. The discern approach would be to stick to the parliamentarian system.

South Asia

“Haqeeqi Azaadi” or “Political Invasion”?



You call it a “Long March” or an “Azaadi March” or a “Haqeeqi Azaadi March” and lastly according to some people “Political invasion of the capital”; whatever attempt it may be, the impact of this “Long March” will not be “Short” at all. Seems like history is repeating. Yesterday, it was PTI, later it was TLP, then JUIF, PDM & now again PTI. This reminds us about a Supreme Court’s historic judgment on Faizabad Sit in by Supreme Court, which is quite relevant again in these crucial times. The historic judgment of Supreme Court on Suo moto quotes that “The leaders of the dharna intimidated, hurled threats, abused, provoked and promoted hatred. The media provided unabated coverage. Inflammatory speeches were delivered by irresponsible politicians. Some unscrupulous talk-show hosts incited and provoked citizens.” Isn’t the situation once again similar? Doesn’t it seem like history is repeating? Few analysts consider it to be a worst kind of situation.

Supreme Court writes in its judgment that “the freedom of speech and expression and of the press are fundamental right. However, these rights cannot be used to denigrate or undermine the glory of Islam, security or defence of Pakistan, friendly relations with foreign States, public order, decency or morality or in relation to contempt of court, or commission of or incitement to an offence.  He categorically mentions that “PEMRA Ordinance mirrors the restrictions as set out in Article 19 of the Constitution and further prohibits broadcasts which are, “likely to create hatred among the people or is prejudicial to the maintenance of law and order or is likely to disturb public peace and tranquility.” So, Supreme Court has already given clear instructions that if some event is likely to disrupt peace and tranquility, media broadcasts can be prohibited.

Insiders say that we are in a dead end and this is the most crucial time of history for Pakistan, especially when the economic fate has to be decided by IMF on 25th May when Imran khan marches on Islamabad. So let’s playout the possible upcoming scenarios which political stakeholders may have to consider;

  1. Marching towards Islamabad with huge crowds is one thing but forcing a government to dissolve assemblies with this crowd is another thing. Imran Khan very well knows this is a do or die situation for his political career as well. He knows his March will only succeed if he can force an early election.
  2. Bringing larger mobs to Islamabad will only be fruitful if there is some kind of disruption by the present government or by the PTI itself. IK knows that a prolonged sit in without happenings in the red zone won’t be impactful.
  3. PTI leaders have been repeatedly convincing people including government employees, Army officers and police to bring their families in their Haqeeqi Azaadi March. The question which arises is that “Why IK doesn’t bring own family members to join the “Jihad” or “Haqeeqi Azaadi”?
  4. IMF has to take crucial decision on Pakistan’s economic fate. Without an IMF Package, a Srilanka type scenario may arise. The decision will come on the same date as of long march, on 25th May. This is a do or die situation for Pakistan’s economy. So the leaders of this March should definitely come with a futuristic economic plan and tell the masses how will they get rid of this dire economic situation.
  5. While Srinagar Highway will be full of Marchers led by the so-called Ambassador of Kashmir, a big decision is expected to come from Srinagar about Yasin Malik. Unfortunately, it is expected that his sentencing maybe announced on 25th May as well.

The government also has limited options. They are arresting leaders of PTI. They are raiding houses in their own panic mode which will further incite the situation. The removal of fuel subsidiary has become inevitable and when it happens it will be the most unpopular decision. Rising, Inflation will cut purchasing power. Finalization of IMF program has brought them to a dead end.

The dread is in the air. 25th May is around the corner. It is Crucial. It is Do or Die for Pakistan. We must fear!!

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South Asia

When Politics turns Personal; The Toxic Allegations & Accusations become a Norm



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There is something happening beneath this political turmoil which is NOT looking good!!

Whenever Political landscape turns into a Personal battleground, defeats become unacceptable. These past few days are a perfect case study to see that how Political elite in Pakistan has done whatever it took it to stay in power. In this power grab scenario, there could be numerous losses including the integrity of institutions. We have unfortunately entered into a very dangerous phase, where some political stakeholders have put all stakes at risk, where they have stretched their limits beyond a constitutional limit, all to gather mass support, all to stay in power and avoid defeat. Is it a threat of losing power? Is it a double game? Is it a practical hybrid war we are fighting?  Whatever it is, it doesn’t seem to be good. All is at stake, all is at risk and all is toxic.

As if the political temperature was not noxious enough, Shireen Mazari Saga took place. Once again, accusations, allegations and assumptions started pouring in against the state institutions. Soon after her arrest, her daughter, a lawyer herself Imaan Zainab Mazari alleged that her mother was beaten by male police officers during the arrest. But few minutes later, a video clip surfaced that showed clearly that her mother was arrested by Female Police officers in broad daylight and as per the law. Lie number 1 of the daughter stood exposed. Within moments, without any cogent evidence the lady, known for many controversies in the past targeted state institution for such an act, although the anti-corruption already had taken responsibility of her arrest.

Abuse of power can never be tolerated, regardless of who it targets or from where it emanates. This mantra is true and everyone has an equal belief on it but let’s take a deep dive to see that how politics turned dirty in this case, how blame game took place and how this entire episode was used as a tool to churn propaganda against Army leadership and Armed Forces.

1. The anti-corruption police had arrested Shireen Mazari and she herself accepted that Prime Minister and Interior minister were responsible for my arrest. But the mother daughter nexus brazenly started blaming institutions without any solid evidence. Shouldn’t there be an inquiry on this too?

2. PTI was always of the opinion that why courts were opened mid night to send IK packing while he wasn’t listening to anyone however when same court gave a verdict in favor of PTI ex minister, late night, it was celebrated and much appreciated by Shireen Mazari & IK who have been spearheading anti judicial tirade until recently. Isn’t it blatant hypocrisy? Judicial inquiry has been ordered by the Court which is a positive sign, but the serious allegations which Mazari nexus have raised must also be inquired during this newly formed judicial inquiry. Should the Judiciary not question them on hurling these baseless allegations?

3. The present government, whose Police itself arrested Shireen Mazari disowned this attempt. Attorney General displayed his ignorance about the matter in front of the court. So, somehow the government created this impression in the public eye that they are not to be blamed for the arrest of Shireen Mazari. Was it a double game? Or a deliberate effort to discredit institutions?

Pakistan is already facing serious economic downfall, political uncertainty and civil strife. PTI has also announced Long March to Islamabad on 25th May which is likely to further exacerbate already fragile political and economic instability. It has become quite evident now for achieving petty political ends, our political elite has no serious resolve to address the crisis confronting the country. Country is being deliberately pushed to limits of economic and political dead end. The political immaturity and lack of vision to handle the crisis situation is also hurting the repute of institutions amidst internal political wrangling. If political leadership doesn’t come to grips of the critical situation prevailing which is likely to aggravate further in coming days, people of Pakistan in particular and the country in general are likely to suffer unprecedented damage. Political elite must put its acts together and steer the country out of prevalent political and economic crisis by showing sagacity and political wisdom until it’s too late.

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South Asia

Accusations to Acknowledgement: The Battle of Article 63 A



The weather is heating up. As the May is ending, Political temperatures are soaring. The fate regarding the country’s political and economic stability will be measured in the upcoming days. Earlier, PDM built momentum by taking on institutions. Maryam Nawaz raised the temperature by targeting key personalities and institutions. Allegations were bursting against the institutions in all dimensions. Today, we witness reversal of roles. Accusations have been outflowing in every Jalsa by PTI. But now suddenly, the “accusations” turned into “acknowledgment”. “Complaints” started transforming into “Compliments”. Is it the change of narrative? Is it another U-turn? Or is it the restoration of confidence in the institutions? Where will this chaos end?

The Supreme Court’s “decision” or as they say “opinion” or “binding” on Article 63 A has raised some pertinent questions on the status of CM Punjab election? In the interpretation of Article 63 A of the constitution, the Supreme court categorically condemns the practice of horse trading by calling it “a cancer afflicting the body politic”. Supreme Court in its decision of 3-2 rejected the vote count of these dissident members against the party directives. So the future of the Chief Executive of Punjab is now under threat because it is contrary to what happened in National Assembly. The political instability continues and the situation is messy.

In light of this verdict, Hamza has a support of 172 MPAs in Punjab assembly but at the same time, he also has 4 dissenting members which draws the figure to 168. Now further moving ahead, PTI and alliance also has a collective figure of 168 votes minus 21 dissenting members. The situation here in Punjab is way too complex now. A support of 186 members is required for a clear majority in Punjab assembly to formulate a government. This current Punjab government can either fall through a governor led vote of no confidence or a Supreme court order. The governor even has a right to dissolve the assembly with his discretionary powers according to Article 112 (2) of the constitution. Supreme Court has already made its decision on cross voting against Party fiat.  Now legal experts are interpreting the decision in their own dictionaries. What will happen in Punjab? What will happen on the federal level? Will there be an election call? If so, what will be the care taker setup? Will there be a fresh mandate? Who will make the hard economic decisions?  Lot needs to be answered in these crucial times.

From “My judges disappointed me” to “Thankyou Supreme Court”, a lot has happened and a lot is ready to take place. Islamabad is full of gossips, interpretations, whispers and predictions these days. There is something seething under this political turmoil. The Red zone is under a lot of pressure whether politically or economically. Pre – Elections, Elections and then Post elections, we have a lot of consequences of a lot of hard decisions. But hard decisions need to be taken. Question is who is ready to make the hard choices? Be Afraid!!

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