September 25, 2010 1 Comment
Many many years ago, To everything turn turn turn was one of my favourite songs – song that carried many good things in it. Today, the political milieu of Pakistan reminds me of that song and I wish we change for its still not late (I have replaced “peace” with “change”).
Pakistan today faces yet another turning point of its history. Having been ruled by corrupt rulers for a long time, that finds no end to itself till date, we are at the crossroads once again – the crossroads that require an urgent change to put the miseries being faced by the country to a possible end. On every TV channel there is a debate going on what to do, but there aren’t any suggestions – just wild guesses. Some advocate martial law, others contend for change within the parliament. While the military option is clear (and dangerous), the change within the parliament is vague and ambiguous.
The Supreme Court’s orders and decisions are being disobeyed openly and there seems a clash of titans very soon. But the epic court can only give decisions – but if these are not implemented, then where goes the rule of law. The elected representatives insist all issues to be resolved within the parliament, while the Supreme Court insists implementation of its decisions. Both the parliament and the Supreme Court seem to be at logger head with each other.
Those politicians not part of the parliaments have loud claims, but they cannot do anything being out of the parliament. Dragging Army once again would be disastrous as if the Army also fails to harness the sorry state of affairs of the country, then what would become of all of us?
There is a need to have realization by everyone that the present situation is harmful for the country. The already fragile economy has been hit hard by the floods that have destroyed almost half of the country’s communication infrastructure, dislodges more than 20 million people and destroying millions of houses and buildings. And above all, the flow of foreign assistance is being hampered due to widespread corruption and resultant credibility issue. Due to bad governance and no hold on the affairs of the state by the government, corruption is rampant in the country. Even an elected representative of the ruling party claims openly that corruption is their right and words to that effect.
We are thus faced with a political, economic and social dilemma and yet find no solution to escape from it. The IMF and WB are out there demanding enforcement of stringent financial discipline that would create an unprecedented price hike in the country – which will only hit the poor and the middle class besides the flood victims more than anyone else. Those who have brought the country to this abysmal situation would never be harmed by the conditions of the country as they have the vaults full of money and villas in posh localities all around the world. If God forbid something happens to the country, they have all escape routes opened to them.
A time has finally come for change; I swear it is not too late. We can still keep the genie inside the bottle lest any delay would allow him to escape. To my reckoning, there are following four options to keep the genie inside the bottle and these be considered in the same order of priority to be followed one after the other if the previous one doesn’t materialize or fails.
1. The Army Chief, being a stake holder and part of the troika (President, PM and himself), should step in and use his weight on the former two to take stock of the situation, uphold the rule of law by implementing all decisions of the supreme court in letter and spirit, ensure good governance and resolve the credibility issue by taking corrective measures (and everyone knows what measures I am referring to).
2. The president should step down from being the party head of the PPP, hands over all powers to the PM and himself becomes a figurehead as is done in any parliamentary form of government, India being a fine example of it. Here it may be mentioned that any change inside the parliament by changing the PM would not resolve the issue. We need an impartial president who allows functioning of the government through a strong and powerful PM.
3. The Supreme Court to order the Army to step as per the relevant clauses of the constitution and take stock of the situation, especially till earliest rehabilitation of the flood victims and control over the economy. A timeframe be spelt out by the epic court, after which elections be held and government handed over to the new elected government.
4. If all three options fail, the last options would be that of martial law – but a stringent martial law to really cleanse the mess rather than prolonging it with devastating after effects.
I hope sanity would prevail and need to resort to options 3-4 doen not arises. This is the only way we can bail out of the present turmoil temporarily– what is being termed as a constitutional change.
Having said that, I would also add that we also need to analyze whether the parliamentary system is still a workable system for us? So far it seems that presidential form of government has been more suited rather than the parliamentary system we follow. Our past record shows that the country progressed more in the times when we had a powerful president rather than a prime minister. But at present we may not be ready for the system change. We need to deliberate more on it, lest we plunge into another nightmare.
Related Reading: Constitutional Change (By Syed Asghar Javed Shirazi)